Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Finding the Patient's Voice

Dr Linda Jacobs.

This paper will extend the concept of acting out as a synthesis of thought and experience in creative tension. Acting out will be redefined as a potential space which creates the possibility of achieving new self experience while preserving early relational experience.
I will explore the creativity and sexual life of a patient, which simultaneously preserved, and freed her from, ambivalent attachments to primary objects. Her sexual desire and creative process, lived out in sequestered ways was not an acting out of repressed wishes, but the creation of a potential space through which she redefined aspects of self, and reproduced the early object relations through which her body ego and sexual identity had been constructed. Bodily symptoms: bulimia, performance anxiety as an opera singer, and secret sexual encounters, represented profound struggles with desire; as well as identifications and disidentifications with parental introjects. The patient’s body indulgence and exhibitionism, both dramatically undone by bulimia and performance failures, carved out a transitional dimension which simultaneously sustained and abdicated desire.
What became salient in the analytic encounter was the analyst’s identification with the patient’s desire; through the metaphor of the diva, the patient’s unconsciously felt, but foreclosed, desire was voiced through powerful projective processes. This transformational object seeking, is described by Bollas as "the desire to be matched . . . within an aesthetic frame which promises to remetamorphose the self." It is, thus, the force of intersubjective experience which has transformational power.


Dr Linda Jacobs  (United States)
Associate Professor
Department of Human Development and Leadership
Long Island University

Linda Jacobs is a psychoanalyst and professor of graduate studies in school psychology. She is the co-author of the book, Parent Therapy: a Relational Alternative to Working with Children and is in private practice in New York City.

  • Acting out
  • Creativity
  • Sexual identity
  • Object relations
  • Potential space

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)