Whose crisis is it? A relational psychoanalytic perspective

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Life crises are severe psychological states that may elicit either growth and positive change or harm and limited development in those experiencing them. This article examines various intersubjective elements of crisis states in light of some of the significant theoretical and clinical developments in psychoanalytic thinking. Amongst these is the mutual influence believed to exist between those experiencing a crisis and those in close relational surroundings. It is proposed herein that some of the actions and reactions of those experiencing a crisis are, in fact, enactments expressing the wishes, fantasies, and needs of others around them. An appropriate interpretation of these enactments can relieve the anxiety accompanying the sense of loneliness, strangeness, and exceptionality that so often characterize crisis states.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-305
Number of pages23
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychotherapy
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2010


  • Crises
  • Enactments, wishes
  • Intersubjective

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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