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Wilson, M. (2006). Response to Commentaries. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 54(2):457-462.

(2006). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 54(2):457-462

Response to Commentaries Related Papers

Mitchell Wilson

It is a privilege to have my work examined so closely and thoughtfully by respected colleagues. I am very appreciative of their efforts. I will not, of course, be able to respond to every point made or observation offered. I intend my remarks to clarify my point of view, to address what I think are misunderstandings of my point of view, and to discuss further a few of the more vexing aspects of my paper.

I have aimed to highlight the crucial importance of lack in the generation of meaning within the analytic field and in the analyst's basic clinical position. I can see where it might be hard for a reader or commentator to find a place to speak within a broad landscape whose outer boundaries are clearly marked (“the nothing that is the source of fear and the nothing that is the source of help”) and within which an essential dialectic (“meaning's presence and the absences that necessarily haunt it”) is described and elaborated in detail. As best I can tell, in order to find such a place both Reed and Litowitz represent my views in their most extreme form: they claim that I am blindly championing “nothing,” and that I suggest the analyst can or should do “nothing.” Reed says I make a “pathology” of the analyst's attempts at understanding. I would say that their obscuring of one side of the dialectic allows them then to take up the side they've bracketed: this is the cause of meaning, the importance of evolving truths within the analytic setting, the insistence that the analyst must do “something.” And who could possibly argue with that? But of course the main point I make is that the positive giving of meaning is itself necessarily lacking, and that this lacking is an important part of its value. Why? Because an intervention can lead to something more, hopefully something new, only if it lacks something in its content or the form of its expression.


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