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Working in the Presence of Unconscious Couple Beliefs

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Drawing primarily on Britton's (1998) concept of unconscious belief, this paper explores and analyses clinical work with a couple who had specific unconscious beliefs about the couple relationship. In particular, it describes the challenges a couple psychotherapist faces when related to, rather relentlessly, as a persecutory bad object. Couples might find themselves in the grip of unconscious beliefs, Britton suggests, because of earlier oedipal difficulties. The couple described here had profound oedipal anxieties, difficulty tolerating a triadic relationship, and, moreover, fixed beliefs about what it meant to be a parental couple. The paper demonstrates that just as the couple are likely to have found themselves in the grip of unconscious beliefs partly because of earlier unresolved oedipal difficulties—so they were helped to become aware of them through finding a “triangular psychic space” in the therapy.
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Keywords: COUNTER-TRANSFERENCE; INTERNALISED COUPLE RELATIONSHIP; SHARED UNCONSCIOUS PHANTASY; TRIANGULAR PSYCHIC SPACE; UNCONSCIOUS BELIEF; UNRESOLVED OEDIPAL DIFFICULTIES

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2015-03-01

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  • Couple and Family Psychoanalysis Journal is a new international journal sponsored by the Bristish Society of Couple Psychotherapists and Counsellors, the Professional Association of the Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships and aims to promote the theory and practice of working with couple and family relationships from a psychoanalytic perspective. It seeks to provide a forum for disseminating current ideas and research and for developing clinical practice.
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