Dr. Matthew Paldy

The Psychoanalytic Process as Dynamic Field Between Two People

"What we notice most immediately about the analytic field is its spatial structure. Two persons meet in the same room, and are generally located in constant places and complementary positions within it. One is lying on the couch and the other is seated, also in a relaxed position, in an armchair next to and slightly behind the other person; any modification of this spatial structure, empirically adopted as being the most favourable, leads to substantial modifications of the analytic relationship itself. An analysis does not develop in the same way if the armchair is placed a metre away from the couch or if the couch is placed in the middle of the room instead of being next to a wall. Moreover, the choice of a certain position by the analyst already reveals a particular internal attitude toward the patients. These placements form a common space for the analytic relationship; but in the transference–countertransference relation, it undergoes important experiential modifications. Although both are in the same place as in all the previous sessions, the patient may ask the analyst why he or she has changed the position of the armchair, and moved it further away. At other times, patients may experience the distance between themselves and the analyst as being annihilated. The space of the analytic relation may also contract until it includes only the analyst and the patient."
-- from The Analytic Situation as a Dynamic Field, by Baranger & Baranger.