Beginnings and Endings: Time and Termination in Psychoanalysis

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Abstract

This article addresses the complex process of termination in psychoanalysis. Implicit in self-consciousness is the knowledge of death; similarly, one begins treatment knowing that it must end. It is argued that the end is always present in the beginning of treatment and, conversely, termination leads back to the onset of analysis. It is also proposed that termination issues, rather than represent a phase in the treatment, are present throughout the analysis. Terminations are different from endings in that terminations are inevitably incomplete. A case is offered to illustrate these points and to show some of the challenges encountered even when termination is mutually planned and agreed upon. Although the word termination implies finality, artful termination involves transcending the need for the analytic relationship while continuing the work of insight and relational transformation.

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