Seeing, mirroring, desiring: The impact of the analyst's pregnant body on the patient's body image

Yakeley, Jessica (2013) Seeing, mirroring, desiring: The impact of the analyst's pregnant body on the patient's body image. The International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 94 (4). pp. 667-688. ISSN 1745-8315

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The paper explores the impact of the analyst's pregnant body on the course of two analyses, a young man, and a young woman, specifically focusing on how each patient's visual perception and affective experience of being with the analyst's pregnant body affected their own body image and subjective experience of their body. The pre-verbal or 'subsymbolic' material evoked in the analyses contributed to a greater understanding of the patients' developmental experiences in infancy and adolescence, which had resulted in both carrying a profoundly distorted body image into adulthood. The analyst's pregnancy offered a therapeutic window in which a shift in the patient's body image could be initiated. Clinical material is presented in detail with reference to the psychoanalytic literature on the pregnant analyst, and that of the development of the body image, particularly focusing on the role of visual communication and the face. The author proposes a theory of psychic change, drawing on Bucci's multiple code theory, in which the patients' unconscious or 'subsymbolic' awareness of her pregnancy, which were manifest in their bodily responses, feeling states and dreams, as well as in the analyst s countertransference, could gradually be verbalized and understood within the transference. Thus visual perception, or 'external seeing', could gradually become 'internal seeing', or insight into unconscious phantasies, leading to a shift in the patients internal object world towards a less persecutory state and more realistic appraisal of their body image.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Article first published online: 15 March 2013
Uncontrolled Keywords: Analyst’s Pregnancy, Body Image, Developmental Theory, Visual Communication
Subjects: Psychological Therapies, Psychiatry, Counselling > Patient/Therapist Interaction
Department/People: Adult and Forensic Services

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