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Gardner, M.R. (1997). Commentaries. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 45:45-49.

(1997). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 45:45-49


M. Robert Gardner

Lawrence Friedman offers a characteristically thoughtful and thought-provoking blend of the manifestly affirmative and the parenthetically, delicately adversarial. Showing admirable restraint, he does not scold us for wavering between restrictive orthodoxy and promiscuous pluralism. Nor does he chide us for waiting a century before attempting anything beyond episodic and rudimentary examination of our analyzing instruments. Indeed, he praises us for at last getting on the ball. And he rejoices with us for being not, as some might say, occupants of a Tower of Babel, but rather, participants in a renaissance.

But all that restraint and praise is simply to set us up. Friedman's real agenda is to invite us—perhaps even push us to fuller self-scrutiny. He begins by retracing Freud's discovery of the analytic method and the ways in which Freud attempted, patiently and persistently, to help not only his patients but himself. Now, that's a very provocative way to begin. Friedman asks us to set aside—only momentarily, of course—our long-treasured views of the excellent patient-oriented reasons for which Freud moved from one stage to another, and accordingly asks us to look not at what Freud was doing for his patients but at what he was doing for himself.

To that end, Friedman highlights the epigenesis of Freud's indulgence and temperance of his adversarial inclinations. That is, Friedman traces the ways in which Freud's evolving analytic method includes, at each point in its development, compromises between these inclinations and other, countervailing ones.

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