Nkisi Nkondi: the trace of transference in the analytic relationship

Henderson, David (2014) Nkisi Nkondi: the trace of transference in the analytic relationship. In: Psychotherapy Meets Africa: 7th World Congress for Psychotherapy, 25-29 August, 2014, Durban, South Africa. . [Conference or Workshop Item]

Official URL: http://wcp2014.com


This paper uses the image of the Nkisi Nkondi, of southern Congo and Northern Angola, to illuminate aspects of the transference and countertransference in psychoanalytic psychotherapy. The Nkisi Nkondi houses a spirit, which is invoked by the healer. Supplicants hammer nails into the statue to express wishes and seal agreements. The image of the nail fetish enables us to conceptualise important features of the patient’s desire. The image helps the therapist to appreciate forces involved in the construction of the analytic relationship and how power is deployed in the transference. In addition it allows for an expanded understanding of temporality and memory in the analytic process. Dana Rush maintains that in African aesthetics, “the seemingly contradictory ideas of the ephemeral (impermanent, fleeting, short-lived) and the unfinished (on-going, enduring, never-ending) merge in a dialectic that maintains the requisite tension between the two.” This coincidence of the ephemeral and the unfinished is also a feature of psychoanalytic psychotherapy.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Psychology > Centre for Psychoanalysis
Item ID: 13771
Useful Links:
Depositing User: David Henderson
Date Deposited: 12 Sep 2014 10:44
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2016 14:31
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/13771

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Activity Overview
6 month trend
6 month trend

Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.