Academic journal article International Journal of Psychoanalysis

'Break Point': A Significant Moment in the Transference

Academic journal article International Journal of Psychoanalysis

'Break Point': A Significant Moment in the Transference

Article excerpt

First interview

'To be frank, I'm not here because I want to. I'm here because my wife doesn't stand me any more and has given me an ultimatum: either I change or I leave the house.'

These were the first words Ignacio said. He was 50 and was referred to me by the colleague who treated his wife.

His appearance was nice; his clothes were formal, with very careful attention paid to every detail. He impressed me as a very executive and successful person who defined himself as 'perfectionist, prone to detail and control, difficult to live with'.

He went on to describe thoroughly, and with pride, his working achievements: 'I am a third generation of university graduates, like my father and grandfather, we the Xs [his family name] are famous for doing our jobs well, excellence is our priority'.

He has been married to Laura for more than 20 years. She is a university graduate as well who has never worked as such and has, on the other hand, devoted herself to taking care of him and of their children and home. He says that, since his wife started her analysis, their lack of understanding and their arguments have become more frequent.

He is the first child of a wealthy couple who belonged to a high socioeconomic class; he seems to have had a difficult bond with his parents: dependent and with scarce affective communication. He has always felt very strongly demanded upon, and responded with an outstanding performance both as a student and as a professional.

He followed the steps of his father at university and describes him as a tyrant. He has shared the office with him since he graduated. This situation generates intense feelings of rage and frustration, but nothing can be done to change it.

He has almost lost touch with his only sister, four years younger than him, as she has lived abroad since she was very young.

He was in analysis for two years and it apparently ended in an impasse.

Patient: Dr. X is a good fellow, but he's hard and cold like me It was a constant fight, just like with my father There came a time when the analysis was like a boxing ring, each one of us in his corner Endless silences Maybe he got tired, but I said 'That's it' and I left. [He adds he is having interviews with another analyst who was recommended to him.] I had an interview with him but I wanted to be fair and give you a chance before seeing him again. After I see you both twice, I'll decide.

Analyst: [Surprised, I repeat:] Both twice?

P: Yes, because I have to choose. It is important that I choose my analyst, isn't it? It's my right The thing is that I always find it hard to decide ?

The patient goes on to talk about his angry explosions, his bad moods, in a distant tone that is completely devoid of affect. I listen to his 'seeing' and 'choose' as if he was talking about objects displayed in a shop window which have to be accurately evaluated before deciding to purchase them.

P: Laura complains that I force her to submission, that I don't allow her to be herself. I admit that I am bossy, dominant, but it is also her problem, she allows it.

[The end of the hour is near and - perhaps in order not to 'allow it' - I tell him:]

A: It is important for you to choose your analyst, but also for that analyst to be able to choose to work with you.

P: [Stirs in his armchair and clears his throat.] You mean that he chooses me? I had never thought of it that way I don't know I guess it must be right ... What do you suggest?

A: Why don't we give ourselves the time necessary to think it over?

P: Well, it is not what I had foreseen But it may be right [Stands up quickly and asks about the fees.] I pay your bill to the clerk1, don't I? [He refers to the secretary who saw him in.]

A: You settle the fees with me.

P: Oh! It is like this, so direct? [He leaves the money on my desk.] It is just that I am not used to paying to a woman so that she sees me, except for the servant the service person ? …

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