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Winer, J.A. (1991). Varieties of Empathic Response. Ann. Psychoanal., 19:209-212.

(1991). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 19:209-212

Varieties of Empathic Response

Jerome A. Winer

Dr. Newsome has presented us with one of the central questions that has stimulated, haunted, and vexed psychoanalytic practitioners and theoreticians from the beginning: How does psychoanalytic treatment change people for the better? In our contemporary world of external demands for quality assurance and utilization review as well as our own self-imposed standards of probity, we are forced to answer if not loudly at least clearly. It is toward a definition of terms that Dr. Newsome is sending us, and she begins with Kohut's transmuting internalization by addressing the question, one of Kohut's last, of “whether psychic functions can be established reliably and abidingly that constitute a direct takeover of selfobject functions…[or whether] the presence of the selfobject … activate(s) innate functions without the detour of an intermediate gross borrowing …” (Kohut, 1984p. 100. She turns to Daniel Stern for understanding of the manner in which an infant experiences his own development and evolves a sense of self. Around the eighth month of life an infant, according to Stern, becomes aware of the possibility that his mother may or may not feel as he does. Stern does not believe that this intersubjective relatedness constitutes a major psychological need but gives wonderful examples of parental attunement that seem to confirm Kohut's view of its enhancing the vitality of the self. The mother “shimmies” with joy at the baby's initiative, and that affect joins the baby's intention. Dr. Newsome believes that the patient whose analyst conveys understanding and acceptance is having a similar experience. It is the coalescence of affect and aim that is the bedrock of self-cohesion, the sense of legitimacy of one's initiatives that yields wholehearted enjoyment of one's talents.


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