Focus On – Elasticity in Psychoanalytic Technique

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Elasticity in Psychoanalytic Technique: Risk and Benefit in the Work of Michael Balint

Ralph Kaywin, DMH

Two Thursdays, Feb 13 and 20, 7:30 PM–9:00 PM

flyerIn The Basic Fault, Michael Balint continues Sandor Ferenczi’s work regarding how to treat non-neurotic, more disturbed patients. Ferenczi actively altered the therapeutic frame to the point of mutual analysis, where-in the therapist and patient would alternate who was analyzing whom. Comparatively, Balint used a more firm analytic frame while still implementing elasticity of theory and technique which he believed benefited both patient and analyst. Balint’s ideas are relevant today especially for psychotherapists who treat patients who are more disturbed.

Fifty years ago, the concepts of regression and dependence within psychoanalysis were synonymous with pathology. Balint normalized dependence within the analytic couple and differentiated between what he calls malignant and benign regression. He took the position that the conditions that cause a benign versus malignant regression are not the character structure of the patient, but instead the emotional position taken by the analyst.

In this course, we will discuss two important aspects of the analytic frame that predict whether the dependence of the patient will be therapeutic (benign regression) or destructive (malignant regression). The first aspect is whether the hierarchy in the analytic relationship is explicit or implicit—even subtle forms of paternalism foment malignant regression. The second aspect is Balint’s distinction between regression to recognition versus regression to gratification. Whether the analyst offers recognition or gratification determines the shape the treatment will take.

The enriched understanding of fundamentals of Balint’s work provided by this course is background for those planning to attend PINC’s International Visiting Scholar Week (March 23-28, 2020), featuring British psychoanalyst Jonathan Sklar. Sklar’s writings include Balint Matters: Psychosomatics and the Art of Assessment (2017), and the title of the paper he plans to present at the Saturday daylong event is “Violence, Destruction, and Survival: Regression at the Level of the Basic Fault.”

After taking this course, participants will be able to:

  1. delineate and clinically distinguish between the three-person so-called oedipal level of conflict and the dyadic area of the basic fault in the transference and countertransference
  2. identify and list ways to avoid addictive-like demands for care (malignant regression) via the facilitation of therapeutic regression
  3. describe and define Balint’s concepts of Primary Love and New Beginnings as clinically relevant to the experience of disruptions and repairs within such treatments

Contact: 415-288-4050 | 530 Bush St, Suite 700, San Francisco CA USA | Visit for policies and disclaimers.

The Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California (PINC) is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. PINC maintains responsibility for this program and its content. This course meets the qualifications for Continuing Education Credit(s) for PhDs, MFTs and/or LCSWs as required by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences.

February 13th, 2020 7:30 PM
Private residence in Berkeley
Berkeley, CA
United States
Event Fee(s)
General Admission $ 70.00
PINC Members $ 60.00
Students and Candidates $ 40.00
(4) CE Credits $ 40.00