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Intimacy pp 403-425 | Cite as

Aspects of Pseudointimacy in the Psychotherapy Relationship

  • Irwin Hirsch

Abstract

Quoting from Leslie Farber (1966),

What is called the fear of intimacy in the schizophrenic might be more accurately called the fear of losing intimacy. And the wilder manias of pseudointimacy which serve as a desperate camouflage [for hopelessness] could also be seen as desperate gambits to retrieve what has never been gained. It cannot be denied that the strained smile or the joyous laughter that often substitutes for friendship at a dinner party, bears some relation to the giggling of a hebephrenic or the grimace of catatonics. (p. 149)

This reference is one of the few in the psychoanalytic literature that makes use of the term pseudointimacy. “To retrieve what has never been gained” is a sad and futile quest. The psychotherapeutic relationship, in my opinion, can never replace what was absent in the past. It can provide a new relationship and life experience, and it can clarify what was missing and may still be missing in the life and life history of the patient. This viewpoint is not shared by many therapists, especially those who attempt to work with more severely disturbed patients. The therapeutic interaction often takes the form of a parent-child relationship with the explicit aim of providing to the patient what was missing from his or her childhood. Some refer to simple nurturance, and others talk of building structures where there once were deficits within the patient.

Keywords

Schizophrenic Patient Sexual Material Drive Theory Therapeutic Interaction Disturbed Patient 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Irwin Hirsch
    • 1
  1. 1.Manhattan Institute for PsychoanalysisNew YorkUSA

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