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Levenson, E.A. (1992). Harry Stack Sullivan: From Interpersonal Psychiatry to Interpersonal Psychoanalysis. Contemp. Psychoanal., 28:450-466.

(1992). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 28:450-466

Harry Stack Sullivan: From Interpersonal Psychiatry to Interpersonal Psychoanalysis

Edgar A. Levenson, M.D.

WE ALL HAVE OUR MYTHS of the primal ancestor. Traditional psychoanalysis has Freud: we have H. S. Sullivan. In both cases, a great deal of fancy hermeneutical footwork is necessary to maintain tradition and continuity: to show that—what the founder meant, should have meant, would have meant had he lived—is what we are claiming today. I never met Harry Stack Sullivan; he died in 1949, several years before I entered the William Alanson White Institute. However, I did work intensively and enthusiastically with many of the people who knew him well and were great proponents of his work. So, I suppose that qualifies me as an early disciple, if not a true Apostle. Someone once said—rather sourly—that one gets the disciples one deserves. I don't know whether Sullivan would endorse my particular brand of interpersonalism; but I do believe that what I have to say is an extrapolation of Sullivan's position.

As I pointed out in The Web and the Spider(1984), Sullivan made no claim, as did Freud, to being the Lonely Hero, on a quest. Sullivan (to quote myself):

did not claim to work in heroic isolation. He was, in a very significant sense, a conduit for many other people's ideas.

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