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Pizer, S.A. (1996). The Distributed Self: Introduction To Symposium On“The Multiplicity Of Self And Analytic Technique”. Contemp. Psychoanal., 32:499-507.

(1996). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 32:499-507

The Distributed Self: Introduction To Symposium On“The Multiplicity Of Self And Analytic Technique”

Stuart A. Pizer, Ph.D.

The articles assembled here (or earlier versions of them) were first presented at a symposium sponsored by the Massachusetts Institute for Psychoanalysis, on October 14, 1995. The symposium committee,1 which I cochaired with Barbara Pizer, invited this panel to consider and investigate the evolving contemporary model of a postmodern self as decentered and disunified: in short, a normative multiple self. We asked the panel members to reflect on whether “the multiplicity of self” was a current fad, a misdirection, or an important paradigm shift; and we asked them to explore the implications of this self, so conceived, for the ways we think about and practice analytic technique. We chose our panelists with the hope that they might converge on the issue from a multiplicity of disciplines and frames of thought, including interpersonal and relational psychoanalysis, clinical phenomenology, psycholinguistics, self psychology, evolutionary-adaptive theory, studies of trauma and dissociation, postmodern philosophy, and gender studies. Of course, we bore in mind that each speaker could not—must not—be presumed to stand for any one discipline or frame of thought. As these articles reflect, each author houses a multiplicity of perspectives, however each may appear idiomatic by virtue of selected practice. Indeed, in my introduction to our program I quoted Whitman, from “Song of Myself”:

Do I contradict myself?

Very well then I contradict myself,

(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

My own interest in the multiplicity of self has derived from a longstanding exploration of paradox and negotiation in psychoanalysis (Pizer,


1 I wish to acknowledge the substantial contributions made by the members of the MIP Symposium Committee: Guillemette Caron-Simmers, LICSW, Lynne Layton, Ph.D., and Jane Leavy, LICSW.

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Contemporary Psychoanalysis, Vol. 32, No. 4 (1996)

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