Vicissitudes of ideas of cure in analysands and their analysts: A longitudinal interview study

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Abstract

This longitudinal prospective study focuses on analysands’ and analysts’ implicit ideas of how psychoanalysis might help analysands’ psychological problems. Seven analysands and their analysts were periodically interviewed. Single ideas of cure from 75 interviews were inductively categorized. Nine distinct types of cures emerged, representing the wished-for goals of psychoanalysis, as well as the actions to achieve the wished-for changes. Each category might comprise more or less utopian ideas of wished-for cure as well as ideas of an attainable, more limited cure, or combinations of these. The utopian ideas of wished-for cures persisted throughout the psychoanalytic process for more than half the analysands and analysts. The abandonment of these ideas was related to the experienced outcome of psychoanalysis. The relation between the theories of one analysand and her analyst is explored in depth in a case study with special emphasis on the analytic process. The study suggests that the psychoanalytic process might profit from the analyst’s observance of such incongruities and an openness to work through them.

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