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Slavin, M.O. (1996). Is One Self Enough? Multiplicity In Self-Organization And The Capacity To Negotiate Relational Conflict. Contemp. Psychoanal., 32:615-625.

(1996). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 32:615-625

Is One Self Enough? Multiplicity In Self-Organization And The Capacity To Negotiate Relational Conflict

Malcolm Owen Slavin, Ph.D.

Dr. Lachmann has given us a wonderful opportunity to address the issues of multiplicity, analytic theory, and analytic process. And he has done so very courageously, by staking out a clear position in our dialogue about something we call “multiplicity.” His position is not the easy, fashionable one taken in many contemporary discussions. He is the advocate for a singular, unified self—a self that strives, above all, for integration. Moreover, we should recognize that Dr. Lachmann's clinical case is far from the wrapped-up success story, filled with affirming moments for the therapist, that we often hear presented. David (Dr. Lachmann's patient) and Dr. Lachmann are very much in process, just getting started—in my view, at least—with forebodings of what Paul Russell would call the “crunch,” perhaps impasses, in the wind. And Dr. Lachmann invites us in, now.

The world of psychoanalysis has discovered—really, I think, rediscovered—something very important about human inner dividedness and conflict, both as a universal feature of the human condition and as a characteristic of pathology. We now cast this “something” in terms of the very broad, evocative notion of “multiplicity”—of the organization of mind into (or by means of) multiple, divergent versions of self. I will take a brief look at where I think Dr. Lachmann most sharply differs from some of the relational theorists of multiplicity in terms of a few, very basic, theoretical assumptions. Then I'll shift gears to look closely at his telling of the case of David. In the context of the narrative action of that case, I'll try to see if perhaps there are some actual consequences of emphasizing (or not emphasizing) multiplicity. My focus will be on the kinds of experiences that may be captured by the concept of multiplicity as it may


1 Discussion of “How Many Selves Make a Person?” by Frank M. Lachmann, Ph.D.

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

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