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Psychoanalysis On and Off the Couch

Aug 6, 2023

"One of the changes that analysis provided me with was an awareness about how similar we all are, of course with a few differences. For me, an analyst is before all a person who had the opportunity to realize how we all human beings are very similar. We can familiarize with ourselves and with others thanks to these similarities and continuities. I would say like all my colleagues I asked for analysis when I was a young doctor in order to be helped. This is what is common to all  analysts - analysts are people who are more aware and more experienced to ask for help than other people because they had the opportunity to be helped by a good treatment and to have the opportunity to integrate better.”


Episode Description: Stefano begins by describing the characteristics of many analysts today who seek treatment through the lens of mistrust of dependency and mutuality. Instead, defensive styles lean towards pseudo-autonomy, entitlement, and suspiciousness. We discuss how dealing with initial resistances to the transference is both similar to and different from generations ago. We consider the theoretical advances in understanding earlier developmental struggles as well as our greater appreciation of the medium of countertransference. Stefano notes that today's longer training analyses are an important contribution to these more profound clinical skills. He discusses some of the environmental contributions to current narcissistic inclinations as well as the temptations to reduce the uniqueness of the analytic experience to the familiar and comfortable. He closes by sharing with us his personal story and the essential step for all of us to be able to "ask for help."


Our Guest: Stefano Bolognini, MD, is a psychiatrist and training and supervising analyst of the Italian Psychoanalytic Society (SPI), where he served as president (2009-2013). He also was an IPA Board member (2002-2012) and was IPA president from 2013-2017. He was a member of the European Editorial Board of the International Journal of Psychoanalysis and a founder of the IPA Inter-Regional Encyclopedic Dictionary of Psychoanalysis. He has published over 260 psychoanalytic papers, and his books on empathy and on the inter-psychic dimension have been translated into several languages.


Recommended Links and Readings:

Bolognini, Stefano:

Secret Passages. The Theory and Technique of the Interpsychic Relations. IPA New Library, Routledge, London, 2010


Vital Flows between Self and Not-Self, Routledge, London, 2022

The Analyst’s awkward Gift: balancing Recognition of Sexuality with parental protectiveness. Psychoanal. Quart., vol. LXXX, 1, 33-54, 2012.


Enchantments and disenchantments in the formation and use of psychoanalytic theories about psychic reality. The Italian Psychoanalytic Annual, 13, 11-24, July 2019.


New forms of psychopathology in a changing world: a challenge for psychoanalysis in the twenty-first century. The Italian Psychoanalytic Annual, 2020.


Reflections on the institutional Family of the Analyst and proposing a “fourth Pillar” for Education. Opportunities and problems of transferal dynamics in the training pathway“. In Living and Containing Psychoanalysis in Institutions. Psychoanalysts Working Together, edited by Gabriele Junkers, 89-104, Taylor & Francis, 2022.


From What to How: A Conversational with Stefano Bolognini on Emotional Attunement by Luca Nicoli & Stefano Bolognini. The Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 91 : 3, 443-477, 2022.


The Interpsychic, the Interpersonal, and the Intersubjective: Response to Steven H. Goldberg’s Discussion”. The Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 91:3, 489-494, 2022.


Hidden unconscious, buried unconscious, implicit unconscious. The Italian Psychoanalytic Annual, 16, 87-102, 2022.