The Promise of Love: A View Among Women

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S. Freud (1915/1971) suggested that love effects the “cure” yet also saw the dangers inherent in the powerful feelings that may arise between analyst and patient. Early experiences of frustrated need and desire may be relatively inaccessible until experienced within the transference–countertransference and then elaborated. The fantasy that one might be transformed or healed through the love of some perfect “other” presents hazards for both patient and analyst; its inevitable frustration provides opportunities for growth. Using case material, the author explores ways in which the therapeutic environment can provide a safe container whereby the search for an unattainable transformational object gives way to a more loving self-representation. This shift from external to internal sources of transformative power encourages the capacity to experience and accept love without the disorganization that may ensue when it is experienced as a disappointing seduction.

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