Send to

Choose Destination
Psychoanal Q. 1999 Jul;68(3):431-40.

On the therapist's reverie and containing function.


Containment and interpretation are two inseparable aspects of the psychoanalytic technique. This is better understood by Bion's clinical metaphors of "container-contained" relationship and the capacity for reverie. Bion, continuing and expanding Klein's concept of projective identification, has transposed this from what happens to an infant to what happens in the link between mother and infant; until now he laid emphasis on the mother's (or therapist's) ability to contain the primitive anxieties which the infant (or the patient) experiences. He described three types of links--love, hate, and knowledge-- and proposed two metaphors which laid the foundation of a new and efficient frame of reference of the analytic process and technique, namely, the container-contained relationship and the reverie. Two clinical vignettes will illustrate the pivotal function of the therapist's reverie within the therapist-patient interaction. In the first case, a dead (internal) object of the patient was contained in the context of the session, enabling the patient to contain and sustain the psychic pain and her self-destructive tendencies; the second case stresses how the therapist's reverie, during a silence, revealed a bad part of the patient's self, which was lost through projective identification.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center