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Franklin, G. (1990). An Open-Ended Approach to Psychoanalytic Theories. Contemp. Psychoanal., 26:518-540.

(1990). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 26:518-540

An Open-Ended Approach to Psychoanalytic Theories

Girard Franklin, Ph.D.


IN A PREVIOUS PAPER (FRANKLIN, 1990) I discussed the multiple meanings of neutrality which have evolved during the course of the development of psychoanalysis. One of the five categories that was delineated I described as "essential neutrality", a term derived from McLaughlin's statement that "the essence of Freud's work and thinking was that, with very few exceptions, everything was open to change" (1978p. 4). Unlike other forms of neutrality which utilize specific, variable psychoanalytic techniques that can be used by the analyst to facilitate psychoanalytic investigation, this particular version of neutrality represents a position that I believe could be adopted as the analyst's basic and enduring stance towards the entire enterprise of psychoanalysis, and, ultimately, is likely to be assumed by the analysand as well.

Briefly stated, I have defined essential neutrality as an open-ended mental state in which all ideas derived from psychoanalytic investigation continuously are regarded as tentative, provisional hypotheses. This perspective applies, not only to any formulations that are developed during the actual process of psychoanalytic inquiry, but following its termination as well.

Inherent in the stance of essential neutrality is the fundamental objective of psychoanalysis; namely, whether viewed as a one person or two person psychology, to promote an intensive process of self-exploration that fosters, as far as humanly possible, a capacity for mental and emotional flexibility which culminates in an on-going, lasting freedom to accept the unknown in oneself. From


0010-7530/90 $2.00 + .05

Copyright © 1990 W. A. W. Institute

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Contemporary Psychoanalysis, Vol. 26, No. 3 (1990)

1 This paper was originally presented to the Clinical Services Meeting, December 19, 1989, at The William Alanson White Institute.

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