Working with HIV/AIDS Sufferers: "When Good Enough Is Not Enough"

Cartwright, Duncan; Cassidy, Michael
March 2002
American Journal of Psychotherapy;Spring2002, Vol. 56 Issue 2, p149
Academic Journal
The authors begin by examining the intrapsychic implications that HIV/ AIDS presents after knowledge of infection. Using examples drawn from two cases, they explore how knowledge of infection precipitates an insidious traumatizing process that comprises a number of key defensive strategies and dynamic processes. Particular kinds of defensive splitting, projective dynamics, and key identifications, as well as the collapse of the symbolic function, are isolated as being central to understanding the traumatizing process. With this in mind, the role and aim of the insight-oriented therapist is considered. The authors argue that much of the therapeutic work in this area revolves around a central organizing fantasy about the limitations of "good enough" objects in helping them with their diagnosis and its implications. This is linked to a number of technical dilemmas that the therapist will inevitability have to face if he or she chooses to work analytically. Particular technical problems explored include: 1. the management of frame deviations, 2. the therapist's role/s, 3. the use of interpretation, and 4. countertransference experience and enactment.


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