Psychoanalysis and spirituality-catastrophic change and becoming "o"

J Am Acad Psychoanal Dyn Psychiatry. 2009 Spring;37(1):137-52. doi: 10.1521/jaap.2009.37.1.137.


This article considers the relationship between post-Kleinian psychoanalysis and spiritual experience in the healing process of a physically ill man undergoing medical care for an unknown disorder. He entered psychoanalytic psychotherapy after two years of being ill and after numerous medical interventions had failed. The psychotherapy involved certain religious experiences in the patient and the analyst that attuned them to one another. It also involved his fighting with doctors, family, and analyst. The fights were considered a transcendence of his troubling life, a mustering of courage and strength to live with illness and loss, and his use of a godlike fantasy figure, which could also be considered as a vivid good internal object. The therapeutic work was punctuated by numerous instances of catastrophic change, hope, and disappointment and by his not knowing about why his body acted as it has and why important people treated him as they had. He learned to know, in the sense that Bion used the term, to live with adversity, and return to as normal a life as is possible. The psychotherapy is a work in progress.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Death
  • Conflict, Psychological
  • Countertransference
  • Defense Mechanisms
  • Dreams
  • Fantasy
  • Holocaust / psychology
  • Humans
  • Judaism*
  • Male
  • Object Attachment
  • Projection
  • Psychoanalytic Interpretation
  • Psychoanalytic Therapy*
  • Religion and Psychology*
  • Resilience, Psychological
  • Sick Role*
  • Spirituality*