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Mander, G. Pethick, L. (2008). Editorial. Brit. J. Psychother., 24(2):135-137.

(2008). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 24(2):135-137


Gertrud Mander and Linda Pethick

This issue contains a rich mixture of papers, beginning with this year's BJP Lecture, ‘Pluralism in contemporary psychoanalysis: theory and practice’ by Jean White, who explores pluralism as a clinical tool, in the sense of Bion's ‘multiple vertices’, and stresses the many perspectives nowadays available to the clinician in the wake of the paradigm shifts in the profession which the models developed by Winnicott, Lacan, Ogden, Jessica Benjamin and others set in train. White maintains that it is important for the contemporary clinician to acquire and foster a capacity to hold different perspectives in mind while working with patients. In support of her claim, she quotes Bollas who advises the clinician to use different responses with different patients and stresses the centrality of the capacity to recognize and metabolize difference for psychic growth to take place. With the aid of interesting clinical material White demonstrates that we are in urgent need of developing an attitude of active pluralism, and that we should encourage and practise in-depth discussions of the principles underlying the main theoretical standpoints governing contemporary psychoanalysis.

Following this theoretical investigation, David Morgan's more clinical paper, ‘Enactment: moving from deadly ways of relating to the beginnings of mental life’, explores the need for the borderline and psychotic patient to experience the analyst's struggle with the very real experiences being projected into him. By using clinical material from two patients dominated by monolithic thinking, who employed actions for evacuating their feelings of discomfort (one through enuresis, the other through violence and perversion), Morgan demonstrates the importance for the analyst of bearing his feelings of discomfort at a physical and emotional level. He showed how in time he was able to actively symbolize them in ways which eventually allowed the patients to move from their powerful concrete thinking and enactment to the beginnings of thinking for themselves.

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