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Keywords:

  • analytical psychology;
  • holding function;
  • holocaust;
  • Self;
  • temenos;
  • therapeutic space;
  • transference–countertransference

The importance of the temenos as a metaphor to conceptualize therapeutic containment is discussed. Jung drew the analogy between the consulting room and the temenos, at the centre of the Greek Temple as a sacred and inviolate place where the analysand might encounter the Self. Although Jung believed that whether called or not, the gods would appear, under certain conditions, patients may experience ‘temenos lost’, the loss of the holding function of the analytic space. Two cases are presented in which temenos issues played a central role. In one case, an unorthodox method was used to preserve the analytic container during the absence of the analyst and in the other, the impact of an extra–analytical encounter had a dramatic effect on the holding function of the temenos. A discussion is presented of the appropriate circumstances in which analysts may deviate from traditional analytic practice in order to preserve the temenos and transform a ‘temenos lost’ into a ‘temenos regained’.