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Wolstein, B. (1984). The Interpersonal Perspective of the American School. Contemp. Psychoanal., 20:204-223.

(1984). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 20:204-223

The Interpersonal Perspective of the American School

Benjamin Wolstein, Ph.D.

THE CONVOCATION OF THIS 40TH ANNIVERSARY SYMPOSIUM in general, and the theme of this panel in particular, invite us to take still another hard look at the life and work of Harry Stack Sullivan, as part of the critical review and reconstruction ongoing at the White Institute since the 1950s. But now, I believe, we may undertake a fundamental revisioning of both the man and his work afresh—the work, of course, long available since his 1940 "Conceptions of Modern Psychiatry, " and the man newly available in, the 1982 Helen Swick Perry biography, "Psychiatrist of America."

Certain aspects of his life and work continue, however, to escape critical attention. Consider, his long and involved relationship with Clara M. Thompson. Perry devotes a full chapter to it, enabling us, once again, to reopen the study of the personal and interpersonal background of the "Conceptions"—only this time, I propose, with a more sharply drawn picture of the probable influences that Sullivan and Thompson exerted on each other. That sort of study could not have been proposed with the same measure of objectivity while the two were still alive, and closely working together.

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