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Levy, S.T. Inderbitzin, L.B. (1997). Safety, Danger, And The Analyst's Authority. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 45:377-394.

(1997). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 45:377-394

Safety, Danger, And The Analyst's Authority

Steven T. Levy and Lawrence B. Inderbitzin

The concepts of safety and danger as they pertain to the psychoanalytic situation are examined, with a special interest in casting aside familiar unquestioned presumptions about the therapeutic effects of the analyst and the setting as safe and therefore facilitating of self-disclosure, insight, and change. The merit of viewing the situation as in itself neither safe nor dangerous is argued, and problems are noted in the uncritical acceptance of the illusion of safety and attempts to use it for therapeutic purposes. Such an illusion denies the psychological and biological vulnerability of all human beings, especially in relation to aggression. In the clinical setting, working from an unexamined presumption of safety interferes with full transference expression and the analysis of aggression, often in the service of sparing the analyst from fully experiencing the analysand's adult aggressive potential. Contemporary interest in the analyst's authority, particularly efforts to undo it, can profitably be viewed as helping to maintain an illusion of safety during treatment in order to avoid the real dangers that are experienced as present and that are therefore available for exploration and mastery.

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