N.34 - Group psychotherapy and border areas of contemporary psychiatry

A Shared Journey of Discovery – Psychoanalytic psychotherapy within a psychiatric institution

Abstract

The culture of an institution depends on the way that it enables individuals to use its psychic space; the institution may either foster thinking abilities, or stimulate defensive mechanisms, hindering these abilities by giving prevalence to ideological stances. The psychoanalytic group that I am going to talk about was influenced by the culture of the institution in which it was placed. Thoughts, affections, linguistic and somatic expressions typical of the institution were brought into the group despite being bound by the setting which established its limits and with which it had a dynamic relationship at the same time. In this paper, I set out to demonstrate the importance of adopting a field perspective that ‹‹makes it possible, on the one hand, to comprehend the common mental elements, grouped together, as it were, into a single shared pool, and on the other, understand how each individual contributes›› (Correale, 1991). I underline, moreover, the group’s influence over the analyst who responds to the individual’s communicative strains in a personal manner. The patient’s perspective distances contents which are conflicting for the Ego; the issue arises of how an individual can manage to gain a response from the other (analyst) with which he/she interacts. The psychic work of therapists consists of being in contact with her dormant areas affected by the patient’s evacuations. The analyst’s α function has allowed the group to tolerate the darkness and lack of direction, while waiting for a ray of light to open up new ways forward.

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