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Wilson, M. (2015). Introduction. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 63(1):9-13.

(2015). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 63(1):9-13

Introduction

Mitchell Wilson

But here … I should turn back to the doubts about the appropriateness of the compound analogy I proposed between that-which-is-repeated, coloring matter, and figurative language. All three … could be thought of as means of representing processes and energies that might otherwise go unnoticed. But this model seems unsatisfactory and wishful in at least two ways. First, it depends upon the notion of a real preexistent force (call it sheer repetition, the death instinct, or whatever) that is merely rendered more discernible by that-which-is-repeated, or by the lurid colors of the erotic, or by some helpful figure of speech; and second, it suggests that the workings of figurative language … do indeed have the effect of rendering that force “visible.” But we know that the relation between figurative language and what it figures cannot be adequately grasped in metaphors of vision; and we might well doubt that the forces of repetition can be isolated—even ideally—from that-which-is-repeated. The wishfulness inherent in the model is not simply in its isolating the forces of repetition from their representations, but in its seeking to isolate the question of repetition from the question of figurative language itself.

—Neil Hertz (1979, p. 320)

Jay Greenberg's provocative and lively paper, “Therapeutic Action and the Analyst's Responsibility,” raises a number of serious questions about the relationship between psychoanalytic theories—what he calls controlling fictions—and their objects of interest. He also asks us to think about the analyst's activity, specifically the analyst's responsibility to respond to clinical realities, in light of the analyst's specific theory of therapeutic action. Given the nature of the analyst's theory and its relationship to the analyst's activity, Greenberg describes the kinds of conversations psychoanalysts can have with one another about theory and activity, as well as the irreducible constraints on such conversations. For Greenberg, such conversations can achieve some things but not others.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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