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To be or not to be three: a clinical narrative, an unanswered question

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The psychoanalytic literature deals with parenthood as a developmental stage but barely addresses the couple's preconception of fertility intentions. The author reviews the available literature from social research and psychoanalytic writing. Working with a couple over family of origin conflicts, she uncovers the hidden conflict over the wish to have or not have a child, reveals unconscious fantasies about the potential child, and deals with conflict in the otherwise compatible couple relationship itself. The author offers this clinical vignette to extend psychoanalytic understanding of the unconscious fantasies involved. She concludes with a discussion of transference towards the couple therapist as an infection to be avoided, an annoying parent to speed away from, and a disturbing child about whom the couple was ambivalent.

Keywords: FERTILITY; PROCREATIVITY; PSYCHOANALYTIC COUPLE THERAPY; RESISTANCE; THE THIRD; TRANSFERENCE–COUNTERTRANSFERENCE

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2021

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  • Couple and Family Psychoanalysis aim is 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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