Boundary Check: No No…
Posted by Dr. Vollmer on October 22, 2014
All interactions have both conscious and unconscious layers. This is the premise of psychoanalytic theory and treatment. As such, fantasies, erotic and otherwise, are likely to grow in both directions, with the major vulnerability and hence, safety valve, is that fantasies led themselves to words and not actions. In other words, fantasies must mutate into a narrative, but not into an action.
The cartoon above illustrates the point. That Dr. James (fictional, of course), wants to jump on the couch with Edna, is a rich area for exploration, but jumping on the couch is the source of cartoon and mockery. The caption illustrates that Edna, the patient, might indeed fantasize about James jumping on the couch, but narration in replace of action, leads to understanding and healing, as opposed to repetition and re-traumatizing.
This, again, is the fundamental principle of therapeutic action. Patients get better because unspeakable fantasies are speakable, and in so doing, analyzable, and in so doing, amenable to forgiveness and mourning. Edna, in this example, needs to mourn the loss of a parent who saw her as a sexual object and not a child that needed love and nurturing to grow up and flourish in the world. This is not the loss of the death of a parent, but rather the loss of a parent she never had. Only through fantasy, both in patient and analyst, can these traumatic pasts be explored and worked through.
Fantasy, as opposed to check-lists must be open to exploration and hence must not be limited by time. The open-ended nature of this exploration is critical to getting at deep unconscious material which troubles and disturbs functioning. These are the basic tenets of psychoanalytic psychotherapy. We must cherish these techniques and not abandon them for what sounds like a faster cure, but in fact, is a quick change to the check-list.