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Smith, H.F. (1997). Creative Misreading: Why We Talk Past Each Other. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 45:335-357.

(1997). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 45:335-357

Creative Misreading: Why We Talk Past Each Other

Henry F. Smith

A close look at Gedo's recent paper on working through reveals a number of devices used in the development of competing psychoanalytic theories, devices which result in analysts talking past each other. Starting with the notion that all theorists “misread” their predecessors, the author examines how different views of the past create confusion in the dialogue between Gedo and his commentators. He then takes up the issue of how data emerging from the neurosciences can be used to support many different psychoanalytic theories and suggests that there will always be a “metaphorical leap” from one frame of reference to the other. Finally, he examines how the drawing of sharp dichotomies both within a theory and between one theory and another misrepresents analytic work and exaggerates differences between one point of view and another. Thus, various devices that are used to buttress one version of analytic theory make it more difficult to develop a more integrated theory and to correlate psychoanalytic data with those emerging from the neurosciences.

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