Letters from Rio de Janeiro and Basel
by Laura Ferreira and Joachim Küchenhoff
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Thanks for this space! I hope you’re doing well with all the restrictions. I have two thoughts: First, we are dealing with the fear of death, this fear of annihilation, which is experienced differently for each of us and must be especially mobilizing for those who are in the high-risk group. Generally, for the older generation, technology is also part of the unknown. The isolation, the separation, brings this annihilation feeling. On the other hand, or on another level, we’re living an experience which touches all of humanity at the same time. This proximity may bring some hope. I think it is important to verbalize it somehow, within the language of each analytic couple, and receive/hold/welcome (I don’t have the word in English) those feelings to build or rebuild the bond in another register (which will bring in previous connections, of course). I have been thinking we have to work on this linkage.
Best wishes for you all. Let’s stay connected,
Thanks for your contribution! You are right: the crisis touches us all, so we realize that we—the analysand and me—are “sitting in the same boat,” as a German saying goes. This fact engenders solidarity, and the shared helplessness provides, in my feeling, an altered common ground.
I try to understand the change in countertransference feelings and my interpretations.
I still work in my office with some patients; this is still possible in Switzerland, although the number of cases is high here. I was asked by some patients to keep the setting unchanged. What does that do to my countertransference? Intertwined with the feelings of solidarity and a heightened empathy mentioned above, there sometimes creeps in an idea whether the patient is a danger to me physically.
We can only register these ambivalent factors shaping the countertransference in an unusual way.
Laura Ribeiro Ferreira, PhD, is a specialist in psychoanalysis from the Institute of Psychiatry from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), holds a master’s degree in public health by ENSP/Fiocruz, and is a candidate of the Psychoanalytic Society of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Joachim Kuchenhoff is a member of the IPA and of the Swiss and German psychoanalytic societies. He is editor-in-chief of the Swiss Archives of Neurology, Psychiatry and Psychotherapy and president of the supervisory board and visiting professor at International Psychoanalytic University, Berlin.
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