Academic journal article International Journal of Psychoanalysis

Collusive Induction in Perverse Relating: Perverse Enactments and Bastions as a Camouflage for Death Anxiety1

Academic journal article International Journal of Psychoanalysis

Collusive Induction in Perverse Relating: Perverse Enactments and Bastions as a Camouflage for Death Anxiety1

Article excerpt


The predominant opinion in contemporary psychoanalysis (Kernberg, 1992, 2004; Parsons, 2000; Tuch, 2010) holds that perverse pathology includes a wide clinical spectrum ranging from the temporary perverse defences that appear during difficult periods in all analyses (Coen, 1998) to the strictly sexual perversions and a diversity of perverse character types not necessarily accompanied by a sexual perversion.

The psychoanalytic models of perversion that have been developed throughout the history of psychoanalysis can broadly be divided into two paradigms, depending on which function is viewed as central: some models propose that perverse pathology has a defensive function whose aim is to disavow emotionally unbearable reality (Arlow, 1971; Chasseguet-Smirgel, 1981; Freud, 1927, 1940b; Grossman, 1993); other models consider perverse pathology to be mainly due to the predominance of destructiveness (Gilles- pie, 1952; Glasser, 1986; Glover, 1933; Khan, 1979; Klein, 1927, 1932; Stol- ler, 1975). In my opinion, this dichotomy oversimplifies a highly complex clinical reality since all forms of perverse pathology serve both functions, which are intertwined and complementary: the unconscious function of the patient's perverse mode of relating is not only to attack the analyst for the sake of it, but also to induce the analyst to become an unconscious accom- plice in a 'perverse pact' against the analytic work with the aim of disavow- ing intolerable aspects of reality.

The intense and furtive power of perverse relatedness to induce collusion inevitably leads the analyst to participate in brief collusive enactments. Often however, the patient's resistances find a chronic unnoticed complicity in the analyst; then the analysis seems to progress normally but, in parallel, an important area is split off from the process, paralysing its dynamics: this is what Baranger and Baranger (1961-62, 1966; Baranger, 1979; Baranger et al., 1983) termed 'bastion'. A bastion is a defensive formation in the ana- lytic 'field' and involves both the patient and analyst: these defensive forma- tions arise from a reciprocal complicity between patient and analyst and are constructed around an unconscious fantasy shared by both members of the analytic dyad, who are assigned stereotyped complementary roles that are silently enacted through the analytic interaction.

Recognition of the inevitability of the analyst's collusion - whether spo- radic or chronic - during the treatment of perverse patients has important technical repercussions: it is now widely accepted (Eiguer, 2007; Jimenez, 2004; Joseph, 1971, 1975; Ogden 1996; Reed, 1997, 2001; Stein, 2005) that the analysis of perverse pathology is not simply a matter of decoding and interpreting the patient's intrapsychic world (the unconscious fantasies, anx- ieties, defences and object relations that underlie his perverse sexuality and/ or behaviour). The analysis of perverse pathology must also include an understanding of the information that the analyst obtains through his unconscious participation in collusive enactments. In addition, whenever the process stagnates for reasons that go beyond the patient's usual resistances, the analyst must try to identify what is causing the obstacle: at these times, we take a 'second look' in which we see the analytic situation as a 'field' (Baranger et al., 1983); this 'second look' at the analytic field allows the analyst to discern an immobilized, silent complicity between the patient and analyst that is being enacted in the analytic relationship, slowing down or paralysing the process.

The objective of this paper is to attempt to elucidate the phenomenon of collusive induction in perverse relating, by discussing its causes, manifesta- tions in the analytic field and technical repercussions. Firstly, I will trace a strand of thought in the psychoanalytic literature that has deepened the understanding of collusive induction in perverse relating. …

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