The Taming of Solitude: Separation Anxiety in Psychoanalysis

The Taming of Solitude: Separation Anxiety in Psychoanalysis

The Taming of Solitude: Separation Anxiety in Psychoanalysis

The Taming of Solitude: Separation Anxiety in Psychoanalysis


Psychoanalysts would argue that at the root of anxiety about loneliness, which commonly brings people into analysis, lies anxiety about separation, unresolved since childhood. When re-experienced in analysis, the painful awareness of solitude - the sense of being a separate person - can become a rich source of personal creativity. In The Taming of Solitude , Jean-Michel Quinodoz brings together the views of Freud, Klein, Hanna Segal, W.R.D. Fairbairn, D.W. Winnicott, Anna Freud, Margaret Mahler, Heinz Kohut, John Bowlby and others, presenting a comprehensive approach to the experience of loneliness, a universal phenomenon which can be observed in everyday life and in any therapeutic situation.Written with clarity and insight, The Taming of Solitude will be of great interest to all psychoanalysts and therapists.


Hanna Segal

I have known Jean-Michel Quinodoz since 1978, when he was a member of a clinical postgraduate working group which I conducted in Geneva till 1984. Since then I have on several occasions discussed with him various clinical and theoretical concerns. During those years I developed a respect for Quinodoz's commitment to psychoanalysis, the seriousness of his work and his capacity for ideas. This book shows the qualities I noticed in him.

He addresses himself to the topic of separation anxiety in clinical practice. There is a vast literature on separation anxiety, starting with Freud, but very little has been written on the crucial role that separation anxiety, and the defences against it, play in the psycho-analytic process. Freud speaks of the analyst's Monday crust, but not of that of the patient. Quinodoz shows convincingly, in detailed clinical material, the various forms and varying contents of separation anxiety and the work that has to be done on defences to uncover it and enable the patient to work it through.

In the second part of the book he examines the principal existing psychoanalytic theories on separation anxiety, starting with Freud and including Klein, Fairbairn, Winnicott, Balint, Anna Freud, Spitz and Mahler. Throughout the book he makes references to a number of other writers as well.

The last part of the book is concerned with termination of a psychoanalysis, and here he introduces an original concept of his own, portance. He quotes the dictionary definitions of the two non-identical meanings of the word. the first is the strength of the material needed to support a structure-for instance, the foundations of a house; the second, used in physics, is the vertical force which in combination with speed gives the uplift-for instance, in a plane taking off. Quinodoz considers that a good resolution of separation anxiety results in the patient acquiring portance, a combination of both a firm basis in the internal world and the capacity for uplift. He describes the constellation

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