“I-ness” and the dissociative process. Working with defensive and creative dissociations in the analytic process

“ma gli dei che abitano sotto i nomi e sopra i luoghi se ne sono andati senza dir nulla e al loro posto si sono annidati dei estranei”

“but the gods who live beneath names and above places have gone off without a word and outsiders have settled in their place”

(Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities, Calvino 1972).

Abstract

We suggest that the analytic dialogue develops as a continuous movement that we call “Dissociative Process”, and that this process is the continuous oscillation between defensive positions (repression) and creative positions. Dissociation, as a defense, is a Freudian theoretical stance, while Dissociation, as a possibility for new and creative solutions, is a theory emanating from Janet and was adopted, especially, by relational and inter-subjective psychoanalysis. Through a clinical vignette we suggest how the attitude of an analyst, who is attentive to the Dissociative Process, will respect the Defensive Dissociations of the patient. But, at the same time, the analyst will be particularly careful to support potential solutions, never made real before, that emerge as new associative aggregates (Janet’s Reaggrégation psychique) deriving from the dissociation of the frustrating or traumatic experience, which we propose calling “Creative Dissociations”. The dissociative solutions (defensive and creative) are not sequential but simultaneous.

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Correspondence to Andrea Gaddini.

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Andrea Gaddini, M. D. is a psychiatrist and member of the Italian Psychoanalytic Society (SPI).

Giuseppe Riefolo, M. D, is a psychiatrist and member of the Italian Psychoanalytic Society (SPI).

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Gaddini, A., Riefolo, G. “I-ness” and the dissociative process. Working with defensive and creative dissociations in the analytic process. Am J Psychoanal 80, 53–68 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1057/s11231-020-09240-4

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Keywords

  • dissociation
  • dissociative process
  • Janet
  • creative dissociation
  • defensive dissociation