Being driven mad. Towards understanding borderline and other disturbed states states of mind through the use of counter-transference

Evans, Marcus (2007) Being driven mad. Towards understanding borderline and other disturbed states states of mind through the use of counter-transference. Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 21 (3). pp. 216-232. ISSN 0266-8734

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In this paper material is presented from supervision groups run for nurses and other mental health professionals. The patients presented to the group came from different mental health settings with a diagnosis that included borderline features and/or other disturbed states of mind. All of the patients described caused strong counter-transference feelings of sympathy, confusion, anger, hopelessness and guilt. Although these views were not expressed in formal ward rounds or recorded in clinical notes, evidence of their influence could be seen in the staff's attitude toward these patients. In supervision groups staff would either say that the patients were victims of mistreatment or they adopted a rather moralistic tone saying, 'the patient is attention-seeking', 'manipulative' or 'not mentally ill'. Psychoanalytic supervision which puts the transference and counter-transference relationship at the centre of practice can help staff to think about their feelings and digest them in a way that makes use of them as evidence rather than discarding them as purely subjective. It also helps to reduce the toxic effects of the patient's projections upon the clinician's mind and this in turn helps to reduce retaliatory or manic clinical decisions. In this paper I argue that staff teams need time to reflect on their practice in handovers and clinical meetings and that psychoanalytic supervision can offer a particularly valuable clinical perspective on patients with Borderline features. This sort of support should be seen as an essential part of the work of nurses and other mental health professionals rather than an unaffordable luxury

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Counselling - Social Work, Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, Psychological Disorders - Adult, Psychotherapy
Subjects: Disabilities & Disorders (mental & physical) > Personality Disorders (e.g. narcissism)
Health and Medical Sciences > Patient Care
Department/People: Adult and Forensic Services

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