The Life Cycle (without Regression)
Gregory S. Rizzolo, PhD.
Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute
Freud argued that the dreamer and, by extension, the neurotic adult regresses from the realities of the chronological present to the still conﬂictual strivings and anxieties of childhood. These strivings and anxieties were thought to operate, largely unchanged, in the timeless unconscious. There they awaited activation by day-residue ﬁltering down from the adult present. Many theorists—even those who departed signiﬁcantly from Freud—endorsed this premise. A recent critique has emerged, however, to challenge the reduction of adult suﬀering to the mere revival of childhood problems. This paper articulates and extends the critique to envision a life-span trajectory in which the subject cannot regress, but can only move forward through the reiteration of old problems in new contexts that give rise to novel mental conﬁgurations. The implication is that a complete analysis must go beyond childhood to recognize the emergent potentials—and the dangers—that reshape the contours of adult mental life.
Gregory S. Rizzolo, PhD is a faculty member at the Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute and at the Institute for Clinical Social Work. His work has appeared in Psychoanalytic Psychology, The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, and The Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association (JAPA), among others. In 2017, he received the JAPA Prize for the best paper of the year in the journal. He was recently appointed Editor-in-Chief of JAPA, one of the leading psychoanalytic journals in the world. He published a book on a topic of his talk, The Critique of Regression (Routledge, 2019). He serves as Clinical Director of Depth Counseling, a psychotherapy practice in Chicago.
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