Academic journal article International Journal of Psychoanalysis

Panel Report, IPA Congress Buenos Aires 2017: What Does Intimacy in the Analytic Setting Mean?

Academic journal article International Journal of Psychoanalysis

Panel Report, IPA Congress Buenos Aires 2017: What Does Intimacy in the Analytic Setting Mean?

Article excerpt

Chair: Fred Busch

Presenters: Stefano Bolognini, Virginia Ungar and Claudio Eizirik

Reporter: Douglas A. Chavis

Fred Busch introduced this Panel, suggesting a focus on the significance of the term intimacy for psychoanalytic treatment. Referring to Ingram, he wonders if a "therapeutic intimacy" occurs between patient and analyst, and how it may be theoretically and clinically understood? Busch recognizes analysts who believe intimacy may impair the development of transference, and others who believe that it may deepen the transference. Intimacy may be associated with a positive maternal transference derived from a nurturing mother, and it may also cause anxiety and be phobically avoided. Busch suggests defining psychoanalytic intimacy as the "experience of a shared goal to help the analysand find or re-find her mind". Agreeing with Bolognini, Busch cautions that this understanding of intimacy is not to be confused with kindheartedness, or a blissful fusional analytic atmosphere. Citing Ungar, Busch notes the importance of an inner intimacy, where creativity occurs. This is an intimacy with oneself, but it may often occur within the analytic setting. Busch references Eizirik in noting the importance of the analyst's "listening to listening" and accessing his own associations, countertransference, and also the analytic literature in efforts to understand an analysand's movements away from intimacy.

The final issue Busch elaborates is the question of the role of the erotic in intimacy, especially the analyst's erotic feelings toward his patient that may be essential to understanding the patient. He also raises the question of how the analyst works with erotic feelings, recognizing the co-construction of enactments. Busch then invites the panellists to have a rich discussion of these issues.

Stefano Bolognini presented 'What Does Intimacy in the Analytic Setting Mean?' He views neonatal physiological fusion as the prototype of intimacy that is recreated as we go from inside the mother to with the mother, and then to other relationships. There is continuous movement from outside to inside, and the mucous membranes are paradigmatic of an intermediate zone where these exchanges may occur. We are constantly questing for "psychic equivalents" of inter-corporeal processes in the psychoanalytic process, and this has effects on the theory of technique. This extends beyond attachment, specifically involving exchanges of internal contents. The analyst is involved with the psychic equivalents of the mucous membranes, participating with the analysand in passages from inside to inside. The analyst becomes adept at recognizing psychic symbolic equivalents of corporeal conditions in analytic intimacy, recognizing what the other is ready to take in, and not forcing interpretations. Often in analysis we work with patients who have skin and mucous membranes that remain closed, and there is no real contact and intimacy. It seems more recently we spend much time "building" analytic patients in which interpsychic nutrition and care is necessary to allow for an intersubjective relationship with a cohesive vital self.

Virginia Ungar presented 'Intimacy in Psychoanalysis, Yesterday and Today'. Ungar describes an experience in a museum when she was approached by an attractive young couple and asked if she would enjoy the woman singing a song to her. She agreed, and felt transfixed and mesmerized by the beauty of the performance. The couple left after a quick 'thank you'. She soon discovered that she had been unknowingly participating in performance art by Lee Mingwei, an effort to create an intimate personal opera experience contrasted with the experience in an opera house, albeit with people walking past in a museum. This experience of intimacy in an open space was revelatory for Ungar, who was more inclined to see intimacy within the closed space of the analytic dyad.

Ungar explains that for Klein, intimacy concerns the parental couple in the primal scene, and the child's wish to invade this intimacy. …

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