chapter  5
12 Pages

Existential Crises in the Consulting Room

Ken, a professional in his middle forties, came to me in crisis following the tumultuous termination of a long analysis. That treatment, while initially helpful, had gradually deteriorated into a sadomasochistic enactment into which Ken’s analyst seemed to have little insight. Ken described his analyst as withholding and sometimes mocking; unable to reflect on the relational lock, she rigidly maintained her position until the treatment stalled. Ken left treatment following a particularly disturbing enactment, feeling despair and self-hatred because of his inability to reach her. Briefly exhilarated at having freed himself from this masochistic attachment, Ken rapidly fell into a serious depression. Simultaneously blaming himself and expressing hurt and anger toward his analyst, Ken became preoccupied with the treatment failure.