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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 42 (2000) 9, 693 - 698

Short report

The benefit of the doubt

J.K. Mokkenstorm

The psychoanalytical model of divergent conflict can readily be applied to a number of intrapsychic conflicts that psychiatrists frequently encounter in their patients, and in particular to ambivalence towards treatment. Divergent conflicts are characterised by a typical 'either-or' resistance causing the patient to switch between alternatives, thereby preventing rational and emotional exploration of alternatives. The therapist's functional neutrality, subjectively experienced by the patient, plays a prominent role in the management of these conflicts. Besides practical application, this model provides a starting-point for a technical and theoretical dialogue between psychiatrists and psychoanalysts.

keywords ambivalence, divergent conflict, functional neutrality, psychiatric treatment, psychoanalysis