Several of my therapists have commented on the fact that I don’t talk about my feelings in psychotherapy. I seem engrossed in an intellectualized formulation of my struggles.

An interesting paper by the psychoanalyst Arnold Modell addresses the issue of narcissistic inaccessibility in analysis: “A narcissistic defence against affects and the illusion of self-sufficiency.” Int J Psychoanal. 56(3):275-82 (1975).

I was particularly impressed with a brief disscussion of precocious autonomy.

Modell sees precocious autonomy as resulting from the child’s realistic appraisal of the mother’s inadaquacies, not a result of intrapsychically-generated fantasies in the child.

I am reminded of comments I made about my current therapist. I had raised the issue of the distinction between a transference-based perception of the therapist as engulfing as opposed to a realistic assessment of the fact that the therapist is, in fact, an engulfing person. I had written: “I discussed my feeling of engulfment in relation to the therapist, a female. The therapist interpreted my feelings of engulfment as transference. I was transferring feelings that had their origin in my relationship with my mother onto the therapist. This is a valid interpretation. At the same time, it is useful to consider the possibility that the therapist is, in fact, an engulfing person ā€” or perhaps oblivious to the downside of engulfment ā€” and that my reaction to her reflected my hypersensitivity to actual engulfment rather than simply transference.”