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Panzer, D.E. (2008). Multiple Models in Clinical Practice: Bane or Blessing?. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 56(2):595-609.

(2008). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 56(2):595-609

Multiple Models in Clinical Practice: Bane or Blessing?

Dale E. Panzer

The use of multiple models in the clinical situation—a bane or a blessing? That was the question posed by Sydney Pulver, who chaired this panel, to set the stage for the audience. While acknowledging that this may be “too extreme a question,” Pulver underscored its importance, given that psychoanalysis is currently “in a theoretical state … characterized by pluralism.”

We have many different schools and many different ways of thinking about psychoanalysis. From the standpoint of the development and growth of psychoanalytic theory, is it good for us to have multiple models? Is it useful? Pulver raised these questions and then let the audience know we would not be dealing with them today. Instead the panel would look at multiple models from the clinical standpoint. That is, it would consider what stance the clinician should take and how the use of multiple models impacts the clinical work for good or ill.

Pulver and Glen Gabbard, the scientific program chair, assembled a panel of eminent clinicians to answer these therapeutic questions. Sander Abend, who identifies himself as an exponent of modern conflict theory, was selected to represent the position that one comprehensive theory remains optimal in the clinical setting. Ronald Britton, from England, who identifies himself as a post-Kleinian, was selected to represent his work with multiple models and perhaps to discuss how the pluralistic milieu in contemporary British psychoanalysis impacts his clinical work. Fred Pine acknowledges Freudian roots but does not identify himself with any school or theory. He was invited as a longstanding advocate of the clinical use of multiple models who has written extensively on the subject. Pulver said that Pine had hinted to him that he would say something that would be a variation on his previous views.

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