Creative Repetition

Creative Repetition

Date(s) - 11/07/2020
9:30 am - 12:30 pm

Bruce Reis
Chris Lovett
Freud understood repetition, on the one hand, as something ‘daemonic’ and conservative that could compulsively drive us back, as in the cases of traumatic neurosis or what we would today call post-traumatic stress disorder. Yet, on the other hand, he also grasped the pleasure of repetition such as that found in children’s jokes, rhymes, and stories or in his grandson’s invented game of Fort/Da through which the child achieves mastery of his experience of his mother’s leaving and grows as an individual. Using a process-oriented approach, this paper explores this latter form of repetition and the possibility of different outcomes for the resolution of repetition other than symbolic thought. It describes a clinical case of an unfolding process of unconscious intersubjective negotiation where early conservative repetition yields to a creative repetition that carries the potential for progress and the production of new forms. Here the patient shifts from using her analyst as an object of repetition to an object of play. Rather than approach repetition as a difficulty to be
transcended, the author argues that repetition is the vehicle of its own transcendence.
Bruce Reis, Ph.D., FIPA, is a Training and Supervising Analyst and Faculty Member at the Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research, New York; an Adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor in the New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis; and a member of the Boston Change Process Study Group. He is Regional North American Editor for the International Journal of Psychoanalysis as well as the North American book review editor. He has previously served on the editorial boards of The Psychoanalytic Quarterly, and Psychoanalytic Dialogues. He is the co-editor (with Robert Grossmark) of Heterosexual Masculinities and author of Creative Repetition and Intersubjectivity (2020).
Chris Lovett, Ph.D., trained at The Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute and he is a member of the editorial board of The Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, a former member of the editorial board of

The International Journal of Psychoanalysis, and a member of the board of directors of The Boston Group of Psychoanalytic Studies. In June of this year he was a plenary speaker at the Spring Meetings of The American Psychoanalytic Association, where he presented a paper entitled ‘Field Notes from a COVID Operative: A Middle Passage from “I can’t breathe” to “I can’t dream”. He is in private practice in Newton Centre.

  1. Participants will be able to demonstrate differences between traumatic and non-traumatic forms of repetition.
  2. Participants will be able to evidence the patient’s shift from using the analyst as an object of repetition to an object of play.
  3. Participants will be able to demonstrate the non-symbolic goals of psychoanalytic treatment.
Alvarez, A. 2012. The Thinking Heart: Three Levels of Psychoanalytic Therapy with Disturbed Children.
London: Routledge.
Peltz, R. 2018. “Discussion of ‘Vitalizing Enactment’.” Psychoanalytic Dialogues 28: 361-370.
Roussillon, R. 2011b. “Play and Potential.” In Primitive Agony and Symbolization, 89-106. London: Karnac.
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