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Love, Work, and Striving for the Self in Balance: Anaclitic and Introjective Patients’ Experiences of Change in Psychoanalysis
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Clinical psychology.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0859-1012
2020 (English)In: Frontiers in Psychology, ISSN 1664-1078, E-ISSN 1664-1078, Vol. 11, article id 144Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

One of the most famous quotations credited to Freud is that, when asked what he thought a psychologically healthy person should be able to do, he said: “to love and to work.” A central goal in psychoanalytic treatment is to bring about changes in basic, mostly unconscious, mental structures. The aim of this study was to investigate, applying an inductive thematic analysis, the experiences anaclitic and introjective patients have had of change after psychoanalysis with regard to the domains Love and Relationships and Work and Achievements. Analyzing patient interviews, we identified a third domain of experienced changes, The Self, which refers to increased self-understanding, self-acceptance, and self-care rather than an improved dynamic balance between love and work. All patients experienced several positive changes in their lives during and after psychoanalysis. We also found distinctive patterns that appear to be closely linked to the patients’ initial personality orientation with regard to relationships and achievements. Generally, the patients described symmetrical, but opposite, change processes within the two specific domains of Love and Work. For the anaclitic patients, this indicated a movement inward in the domain of Love (from an excessive preoccupation with issues of their relationship with others toward more distinct self-boundaries and increased agency) and outward in the domain of Work (from unenterprising toward becoming more outgoing and daring). For the introjective patients, this pointed to a reverse movement outward in the domain of Love (from an excessive preoccupation with issues of autonomy toward increased responsiveness to others and desire to be establish close, mutual relationships) and inward in the domain of Work (from an excessive orientation on achievements toward increased becoming more grounded in their own feelings, needs, and desires). In conclusion, patients in both groups have experienced a reduced preoccupation with issues related to their initially predominant personality dimension (relatedness or self-definition) and increased receptivity to needs typical for the complementary dimension. These changes seem to be mediated by changes in the domain of The Self. Our study suggests the clinical relevance of focusing the therapeutic work on fostering a better and more dynamic balance between love and work, relatedness, or self-definition.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2020. Vol. 11, article id 144
Keywords [en]
psychoanalysis, patient perspective, dimensions of change, personality configurations, thematic analysis
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-179014DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00144OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-179014DiVA, id: diva2:1393170
Note

The project was supported by grants from the International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA; 2012) and the Bertil Wennborg Foundation (2012).

Available from: 2020-02-14 Created: 2020-02-14 Last updated: 2020-02-14Bibliographically approved

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