XLIII. Sigmund Freud Lecture by Stefano Bolognini, 21 May 2016, Vienna

Stefano Bolognini: The Humanizing Function of Contemporary Psychoanalytic Empathy

Saturday, 21 May 2016, 11 a.m. at Billrothhaus. Lecture in English

Admission free. Registration: veranstaltung@freud-museum.at

An event by the Sigmund Freud Foundation

Introduction: Gohar Homayounpour

In common language the word “empathy” evokes some superficial mix of sweet tenderness, benevolence a priori, friendly support and no interpretive penetration for disclosing the unconscious level of the psychic reality. In psychoanalysis “empathy” means something profoundly different. This paper emphasizes the difference between normal human empathy and psychoanalytic empathy, which is a much more complex phenomenon.

“True empathy is a condition of conscious and preconscious contact characterized by separateness, complexity and a linked structure, a wide perceptual spectrum including every colour in the emotional palette, from the lightest to the darkest; above all, it constitutes a progressive shared and deep contact with the complementarity of the object, with the other's defensive ego and split off parts no less than with his ego-syntonic subjectivity”(Bolognini, 1997).

Through three short clinical examples, the author will provide the audience with a lively and shareable experience of the depth, complexity and partial unpredictability of psychoanalytic empathy: something that cannot be planned, but that has to be recognized and appreciated as one of the most important and effective events that can change an analytic process and, consequently, the destiny of a patient’s life.

Stefano Bolognini; Doctor in Medicine and psychiatrist, training and supervising analyst of the Italian Psychoanalytical Society. He is the President of the International Psychoanalytical Association, after having been IPA Board Representative and chair of several IPA committees. Stefano Bolognini is a former President of the Bologna Psychoanalytic Center, former President of the Italian Psychoanalytical Society. For 10 years (2002-2012) he was member of the European Editorial Board of the International Journal of Psychoanalysis. He is the author of several books, participates regularly in radio and television debates and writes for main Italian newspapers and magazines.

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