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Hallerman, B. Winarick, K. (1995). Structuralist versus Poststructuralist Perspectives on Session Five of the Analysis of C Presenters: Douglas H. Ingram M.D., Moderator: Jeffrey Rubin M.D., Thursday, January 26, 1995. Am. J. Psychoanal., 55(3):289-290.

(1995). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 55(3):289-290

Scientific Meetings of the Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis

Structuralist versus Poststructuralist Perspectives on Session Five of the Analysis of C Presenters: Douglas H. Ingram M.D., Moderator: Jeffrey Rubin M.D., Thursday, January 26, 1995

Betsy Hallerman, C.S.W. and Kenneth Winarick, Ph.D.

In the spirit of friendly rivalry, Drs. Winarick and Ingram departed from traditional scientific meeting format as they participated in a vigorous debate on the merits of structuralist and poststructuralist perspectives on psychoanalytic practice.

By the flip of the coin, Winarick initiated the debate with his argument in favor of a structuralist position. He described in classical analytic terms the series of compromise formations that determine character structure, and asserted that the repeated appearance of these patterns in clinical data argues for the validity of a structuralist approach. Taking the postmodernist viewpoint to task, Winarick refuted its tenets, arguing that the reference point for reality is unconscious fantasy life, and not language and context, as the postmodernists hold. He asserted that the abandonment of the notion of “objective reality” renders psychoanalysis a basically hermeneutic discipline, which overvalues language as the arbiter of reality, and shifts the focus of the analyst's attention from emotion and bodily experiences to words. Using the repeated discernable patterns noted by researchers in Session Five of the Analysis of C, Winarick asserted that the sequence in the patient's communication fit into a model of conflict and was not merely determined by the context. He concluded that without a theoretical model to guide the analyst in his interventions, the validity of the psychoanalytic process is questionable.

Ingram chose to emphasize the difference in theoretical positions rather than undertake any reference to Session Five, since it was obvious that few audience members had been able to fully digest the 12-page taped excerpt that had been made available earlier. He did note, however, the ahistorical noncontextural approach to this material taken by researchers, as well as the apparent disregard for the implications of taping the session. Ingram then took issue with Winarick's assumption that poststructuralists minimize the importance of unconscious process in favor or language and context. He asserted that a poststructuralist viewpoint indeed values the unconscious as the cornerstone of psychoanalytic thinking, but challenged the centrality of a structural model insofar as it rests on the notion that there is an “objective reality,” when in fact perceptions of reality are always referential.

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