Why are the “forward edge” and “trailing edge” important? While traditionally psychoanalysts focused on what was wrong with the patient, Heinz Kohut, the founder of Self Psychology, focused instead on listening to his patient’s inner experience. Listening this way, he heard patients’ strivings which he came to understand as the developmentally forward-looking selfobject transference. More recently, Marian Tolpin labeled these strivings the “forward edge” and encouraged working with the “tendrils” of the forward edge hidden within obvious pathology she termed “trailing edge”. This workshop will illustrate how self psychologists make use of both concepts.
Imagine Lucy, a fictitious patient, who enters therapy because of her frequent “nerves” and apparent hostility. Using an Intersubjective Self Psychological approach, Dr. R follows Lucy’s lead. Together, they discover that Lucy feels hostile toward people she feels act like they are better than she is and toward those who seem weak. Lucy and Dr. R explored these “trailing edge” experiences and roots.
Later, Lucy mentions how hurt she was when, right after the end of the session, she heard the therapist’s door close very loudly. She felt that the therapist must have wanted to get rid of her. Empathizing with her, Dr. R underlines how courageous Lucy is to express her hurt, thus underlining the “tendrils” of potential forward movement, “the leading edge.” Almost immediately, Lucy feels pleased about herself, with Dr. R and with their work together; she is ready to continue.
Join us on May 13th as we share ideas about working with the forward edge and trailing edge.
Posted by Louisa Livingston and Nancy Hicks