My story in response to the stories of my patients’ experience of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic: a relational psychoanalytic approach
The hallmark of being human is to tell stories. The stories told give meaning to the experience, and it is in telling stories about our experience, that we begin the process of meaning-making. Psychotherapy is storytelling, and in our consultation room we, as psychotherapists, listen to the tales told. This paper documents my story in response to some of the stories of my patients’ experience of the impact of the unprecedented impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. While there have been pandemics before, this pandemic is arguable unique because of social media and the number of people across the world who can share their experience. It is said that more than 4 billion people have self-isolated at home together at the same time as a collective humanity in response to their country’s lockdown rules. For psychotherapists, the shift to online therapy has allowed for a continuation of psychotherapy, and the telling of stories of COVID-19. Some of their stories are sad stories of loss and uncertainty. Some of their stories are more positive and inspiring. In this paper, three patients’ stories have been selected that illustrate both the positive and negative reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic. As the conceptual framework is relational psychoanalytic with its focus on the dynamics of the intersubjective relationship, my story, as counter-transference reactions are incorporated.
Abbott, C. (2011). Seeking lost souls and exorcising demons:
Christological co-narration in psychoanalytic storytelling.
Journal of Spirituality in Mental Health, 13, 92-137. doi:
Aron, L. (1996). A meeting of minds: Mutuality in psychoanalysis.
Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press.
Atlas, G., & Aron, L. (2018). Dramatic dialogue: Contemporary DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315150086
clinical practice. New York, NY: Routledge.
Benjamin, J. (2009). A relational psychoanalysis perspective on
the necessity of acknowledging failure in order to restore the
facilitating and containing features of the intersubjective relationship
(the shared third). International Journal of Psychoanalysis,
, 441-450. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-8315.2009.
Benjamin, J. (2018). Beyond doer and done to: Recognition, intersubjectivity, DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315437699
and the third. New York: Routledge.
Bion, W. (1963). Elemental psycho-analysis. London, England:
Cooper, S. (2012). Exploring a patient’s shift from relative silence DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1745-8315.2012.00608.x
to verbal expression. International Journal of Psychoanalysis,
Geist, R. A. (2013). How the empathic process heals: A microprocess DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/15551024.2013.800357
perspective. International Journal of Psychoanalytic
Self Psychology, 8(3), 265-281. doi: 10.1080/15551024.
Kohut, H. (1959). Introspection, empathy, and psychoanalysis.
Journal of American Psychoanalysis Association, 7, 459-
Mitchell, S. A. (2000). Relationality: From attachment to intersubjectivity.
Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press.
Ogden, T. (1994). Subjects of analysis. Northvale, NJ: Aronson.
Parsons, M. (2006). The analyst’s countertransference to the
psychoanalytic process. International Journal of Psychoanalysis,
- Abstract views: 278
- PDF: 70
Copyright (c) 2020 Zelda Gillian Knight
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.