Suffering is an inevitable side of the psychoanalytical engagement. There are three basic positions that one can take when faced with suffering: 1) suffering is identified with illness and our goal is to remove it as fast as possible; 2) suffering is an inevitable part of the experience of living and we must learn to accept it; 3) suffering is a master of life and educates us to deliverance and self-knowledge. It is logical that the aware or unconscious support to one of these positions biases our way of working especially in terms of analysis of defences. A typical painful experience analysts are exposed to is exactly the loss of their patients, because of their death or simply the termination of analysis. This turns our efforts into an activity that is similar to building sand castles on a beach and trains us to make non-narcissistic investments on our patients.
Keywords: Analytic engagement, suffering, analysis of defenses, transience, wisdom