“Can you whistle?”: The grammar of “living through” in psychoanalytic child psychotherapy
AbstractThe psychotherapist's or psychoanalyst's subjectivity is an important topic in modern psychoanalysis. In child psychotherapy and psychoanalysis, the therapist's subjectivity can play a central part, first of all as a receptive and understanding organ, but it can also take a more active role. This can be the use of self-disclosure or an active interaction with the child in what the author calls “living through.” Living through consists of the constant influence, interaction, and mutual dependence between child and therapist, and of the ability, or necessity, to bring the results of this relational phenomenon explicitly into the therapeutic exchange. This is especially important with severely disturbed children because these children will project heavily into the therapist, and inevitably the therapist must fail to contain all of what he or she is exposed to from the child. Severely disturbed children often cannot endure the mental work entailed in making use of the therapist's interpretations, and therefore it is important that the therapist can live through the difficult situations which often arise in therapy with these children. The child is affected by the relation to a struggling therapist and will therefore also be a participant in living through.