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Levenson, E.A. (1996). Aspects Of Self-revelation And Self-disclosure. Contemp. Psychoanal., 32:237.

(1996). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 32:237

Aspects Of Self-revelation And Self-disclosure

Edgar A. Levenson, M.D.

GILL, IN A SEMINAL PAPER called "The Interpersonal Paradigm and the Degree of the Therapist's Involvement, " saw, with his usual lucidity, that there was no clear correlation between analysts' doctrinaire positions and their use of themselves as the therapeutic instrument (Gill, 1983). In other words, the use of both self-revelation and self-disclosure cuts across institutional boundaries. This observation came after his careful review of interpersonal literature, and it gave him "an illuminating and unexpected jolt, " since it had been an article of faith among Freudians that interpersonalists all "interacted" with their patients (Gill, 1983p. 204). What else was interpersonalism?

In my efforts to delineate an interpersonal perspective on self-revelation and disclosure, I must reiterate that "being interpersonal" and "getting personal" are not, by any means, synonymous! The essence of the interpersonal position lies in the analyst's self-awareness, that is, in an exquisite attention to the nature of his or her participation. As Gill put it, "The emphasis falls on being aware of what one is doing, rather than on what to do" (Gill, 1983p. 211). For the interpersonalist, every perception of the therapist, every interpretation, every inquiry, every omission of inquiry, comes out of the analyst's own participation in the intersubjective field. This requires that the analyst meticulously monitor his or her reactions, including his or her own spontaneous associations and memories; but how much is revealed to the patient is an entirely different question. Among interpersonalists, there are wide variations, not in the emphasis on awareness, but in the use of the patient-therapist relationship,


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Copyright © 1996 W. A. W. Institute

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Contemporary Psychoanalysis, Vol. 32, No. 2 (1996)

1 This paper was first read, in modified form, at the meeting of the Extension Division of the New York Psychoanalytic Society, March 11, 1995.

2 Irwin Hoffman, in his paper "The patient as the interpreter of the analyst's experience, " extended and developed this theme (Hoffman, 1983).

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