“He came to believe that, in addition to getting rid of parts of the self, projective identification was sometimes the only way in which some very fragmented patients could communicate. The problem lay in recognising, understanding and making sense of what was being communicated by the patient, in such a way that the patient could better understand what was happening in his internal world. Before any of this can happen, however, the therapist has to be capable of receiving, and holding on to (that is, containing) ‘inside of himself what the patient has projected into him. These unprocessed, raw, fragmented, and sometimes ‘unthinkable’ thoughts and feelings were called by Bion, ‘Beta Elements’, and the capacity to process and think about them, was referred to as ‘Alpha Function’. It follows from this that an increase in Alpha Function will also lead to a greater capacity in the therapist to contain and manage stress.”

Ved P. Varma, Stress in Psychotherapists
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Stress in Psychotherapists Stress in Psychotherapists by Ved P. Varma
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