The author takes off from a prior work relating the place of remorse in the analysis of an adolescent who became a murderer in order to reread and re-interpret the place of this affect in the texts where Freud speaks of his self-analysis. He points out an implicit theory, which ties in with the explicit theory, barely sketched out, and emphasizes in particular the active and positive side of this affect most often presented as a handicap. He then shows the different faces that remorse can assume in the treatment of the adolescent, working with the principle characteristics pointed out in the preceding discussion, so as to facilitate its detection, its being taken into consideration, and its evolution. This study also seeks to help better differentiate the major affects and to show how to position ourselves when one of them appears central and dominant, whether it be shame, guilt, sadness, or remorse.
Like other basic psychoanalytical constructions, the theory of therapeutic action is currently undergoing revision, and theorists of different persuasions are suggesting different mechanisms.
In the domain of clinical research, the author argues that psychoanalytical psychotherapy with adolescents enables us to describe both treatment goals, (that is, changes) and technique (that is, the strategies that can help to bring about these changes). Interventions that facilitate change can be placed in one of two categories : those which make use of several transformational aspects of the therapeutic relationship, and those which increase insight and reinforce identity.
In particular, the treatment of an adolescent suffering from personality disorder calls into question the identity of the analyst who is specifically engaged in the process of self-analyzing his own adolescence. The work of recognizing and elaborating this process can prove to be a fundamental therapeutic action.
The description of two clinical vignettes will illustrate the different therapeutic actions that are in play.
Adolescence puts the course of early development back into play and works towards the expansion of the psychical apparatus. At puberty, the adolescent is called to provided himself and others with a stable narration (though it may be reworked) of his history and his childhood. The elaboration of puberty entails complex and difficult psychical work, and exposes one to the organization of a psychopathology.
In the borderline adolescent especially, the needs of evolution activate anxiety and conflict in a significant way. The conflict is born of traumatic cores from the past which, on the one hand, generate the fear of re-living fragmentation and, on the other hand, the expectation of the inevitable and continual actualization of the traumatic experience.
The analyst then is responding to the adolescent’s difficult process of becoming aware of himself (his difficulty in making his affective states legible for himself and others) as well as to his perception of not having enough « auto » psychical processus (empty and chaotic feeling of self) through a lengthy self-analytical work. This is the start of knowing and transforming the therapeutic relation which is continually at risk of shutting itself up in confused unity and an endless mirroring function.