“Why Can’t We Be Lovers?” When the Price of Love Is Loss of Love: Boundary Violations in a Clinical Context

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Abstract

Drawing on my own experience of sexual abuse decades ago in a 1st analysis, I describe the deep and abiding residue that continues to shadow the psyche throughout one’s life. However, I argue that what we can learn from this must not be reduced to prohibitions and inhibitions that send affects underground, nor prescriptive rules that may shut down the level ground of authentic and energized relatedness between analyst and patient. But, rather, I wish to promote a culture, a climate, and the preparatory conditions to equip clinicians to be competent and clear-headed about the powerful affects they permit themselves to feel. I ask: How might we be trained to use ourselves creatively within the conventions and constraints of our “school of thought”? How and when is love speakable in a clinical context? What role does the transgenerational transmission of trauma play in the way we handle clinical difficulties? Are the therapist’s sexual feelings abnormal? How might they be healthily processed? How much do we share with our patients or otherwise express? How do we distinguish between limits and inhibitions? These are just a few of the questions for us to review and to revisit again and again.

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