Alumni Group Round Table Discussion Series

January 08, 2021 11:30 am to 1:00 pm

Online - Presentation

Wrestling with Thanatos: Hatred in the Consulting Room

Margaret Jordan, PhD

Though Freud’s concept of a death drive was always controversial and never fully substantiated, hate does seem ubiquitous. This discussion will explore various ways of understanding the hatred that arises in the consulting room—both the client’s and clinician’s hate— and its origins and dynamics. For clients with a history of severe trauma, hatred may become a bond with others or an essential force of vitalization (Sonntag, 2007). Hence, clients may engage in repetitions reflecting their need to find badness in others, in turn prompting countertransference reactions from their therapists (Davies, 2004). A classic article by Winnicott (1949), still one of the 10 most popular articles in psychoanalytic journals, reminds therapists that we must become conscious of our own hatred in order to deal therapeutically with our clients. Nonetheless, it is especially challenging to deal with borderline patients who may not view the therapist as similar to figures from their past, but as truly malevolent individuals deserving of hatred (Gabbard, 1991). Given that hate may serve to organize the borderline patients’ egos and fend off feelings of disintegration, therapists must proceed cautiously in intervening. Technical approaches will be considered.

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