The role of the patient’s remembered history and unconscious past in the evolution of Betty Joseph’s ‘Here and now’ clinical technique (1959–1989)



The author historicizes one aspect of Betty Joseph’s ongoing technical contributions in terms of its originating London Kleinian context. Early on she drew upon both the patient’s remembered history and unconscious past, linking these experiences in past-to-present transference interpretations in order to effect psychic change. In evolving the technique of ‘here and now’ analysis, Joseph came to emphasize a communicative definition of projective and introjective identification as well as the significance of enactments while marginalizing the use of part-object anatomical interpretative language. She gradually set aside directly linking the patient’s past with the present, compelled now by making direct contact with her patients. She now tracked how difficult patients acted in and responded to interpretations from moment to moment. The author maintains that the explicit and implicit conceptual work of Wilfred Bion as well as Joseph’s continuous group workshop for analysts led to an increased understanding of the patient’s projective impact on the analyst’s countertransference responses, and thereby increased the analyst’s capacity with ‘difficult to treat’ narcissistic spectrum patients described by her colleague, Herbert Rosenfeld.
In recent work, while Joseph continues to elucidate what patients recall about their early past, she formats her understanding in terms of a direct analysis of the structure of the patient’s projected internal object relations in the transference. The analyst works with the patient’s communications and enactments, with a greater emphasis on a more ‘inside-to-outside’ understanding of transference in contrast to the earlier ‘past-to-present’ work associated with both Freud and Klein. This investigation concludes with one example of Betty Joseph’s significant impact on contemporary Kleinian technique by taking up some of Michael Feldman’s work. Now the analyst listens to the ‘past presented,’ the patient’s projected internal world, as well as tracks how the patient hears and subtly mishears interpretations for defensive, equilibrium-maintaining purposes, as the analyst attempts to effect psychic change by widening the ego’s perceiving functions.