chapter  3
The third
ByDan Gilhooley
Pages 13

I needed better defenses. During the last hour Ben smothered me with a blanket of rage. Today I felt that Ben was killing me. Psychoanalysts employ a clinical technique that is most elementally a set of defenses. Although analytic authority, anonymity, abstinence, neutrality, the use of the couch, and even interpretation were techniques created by Freud to assure the analyst’s scientific objectivity and to protect the patient’s independence, these techniques also insulate analysts from patients and the troubling feelings they arouse. The emotional distance provided by these techniques offers the “doctor a desirable protection for his own emotional life” (Freud, 1912, p. 115) and protects analysts from experiencing or acting upon their countertransference (Gabbard & Lester, 1995; Mitchell, 1997; Schachter & Kachele, 2007). Doing psychoanalysis is risky for both participants, and emotional insulation seems essential for patients and analysts alike. As Ogden (1989) says, “It is always dangerous to stir up the depths of the unconscious mind” (p. 172). As the analytic process stirs the depths of the analyst’s and patient’s unconscious minds powerful emotions emerge that can cause real harm. So we need strong defenses to manage these feelings during treatment. After spending an hour scorched by Ben’s rage I needed to strengthen my defenses to withstand his powerfully negative transference. My problem was that I could not stop his murderousness.