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Stolorow, R.D., Atwood, G.E. (1997). Deconstructing The Myth Of The Neutral Analyst: An Alternative From Intersubjective Systems Theory. Psychoanal Q., 66:431-449.

(1997). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 66:431-449

Deconstructing The Myth Of The Neutral Analyst: An Alternative From Intersubjective Systems Theory

Robert D. Stolorow, Ph.D. and George E. Atwood, Ph.D.

A critique is offered of four conceptions of neutrality that have been prominent in the psychoanalytic literature: neutrality as (1) abstinence, (2) anonymity, (3) equidistance, and (4) empathy. It is argued that once the psychoanalytic situation is recognized as an intersubjective system of reciprocal mutual influence, the concept of neutrality is revealed to be an illusion. Hence, interpretations are always suggestions, transference is always contaminated, and analysts are never objective. An alternative to neutrality is found in the investigatory stance of empathic- introspective inquiry. This mode of inquiry is sharply distinguished from the prescribing of self-expressive behavior on the part of analysts, and the distinction is illustrated with a clinical vignette.

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