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Gabbard, G.O. (1998). A Meeting of Minds: Mutuality in Psychoanalysis: By Lewis Aron. New York: The Analytic Press, 1996, 312 pp., $39.95. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 46(2):627-630.

(1998). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 46(2):627-630

A Meeting of Minds: Mutuality in Psychoanalysis: By Lewis Aron. New York: The Analytic Press, 1996, 312 pp., $39.95

Review by:
Glen O. Gabbard

Psychoanalysis in the United States is currently struggling to find a new center. The influence of concepts such as intersubjectivity, mutuality, postmodernism, and social constructivism has made most of us rethink the analytic process and conceptualize it as both a two-person and a one-person psychology. Lewis Aron has been one of the most articulate contributors to this shifting landscape. In this scholarly and clearly written new volume, Aron takes the reader on a guided tour of relational psychoanalysis and provides a thoughtful perspective on contemporary psychoanalytic thinking.

Aron avoids many of the excesses of radical postmodernists by making a careful distinction between mutuality and symmetry. He stresses that while both parties in the analytic dyad influence one another and share in common a variety of feelings generated in the process, the relationship must inevitably be considered one that is relatively asymmetrical. The analyst is a professional, with a specific set of responsibilities and a commitment to ethical behavior, who is billing the patient for a service. This emphasis on asymmetry leads the author to be rather cautious in his recommendations regarding self-disclosure. Eschewing any necessary connection between intersubjectivity and self-disclosure, Aron observes that choosing not to disclose feelings to the patient may often be the optimal way for analysts to express their subjectivity. Although he has been one of the leading contributors to the renaissance of interest in the work of Sandor Ferenczi (see Aron and Harris 1993), he is appropriately critical of Ferenczi's compulsive self-disclosure in his experiments with mutual analysis. He notes that Ferenczi confused mutuality and symmetry.

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