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Wilner, W. (1998). Experience, Metaphor, and the Crucial Nature of the Analyst's Expressive Participation. Contemp. Psychoanal., 34(3):413-443.

(1998). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 34(3):413-443

Experience, Metaphor, and the Crucial Nature of the Analyst's Expressive Participation

Warren Wilner, Ph.D.

The interpersonal orientation in psychoanalysis has a long tradition of exploring the uses of the analyst's direct experience as a source for clinical understanding and as a basis for therapeutic action. Tauber (1954), Tauber and Green (1959), and Wolstein (1959, 1964a,b) have spearheaded the use of such experience to extend analytic exploration into the areas of the unconscious, the systematic aspects of the analytic process, and to affirm each analytic participant's distinctive personhood.

The postmodern-inspired deconstruction of metapsychologically based analytic “truth” and “reality” has helped to bring the attention of analysts, now of many different theoretical persuasions, to the significance of experience in general and to the analyst's experience in particular, with special consideration recently given to the implications of working with experience for more expressive analytic participation.

Wolstein (1995) has recently explored the relationship between the analyst's clinical use of immediate experience and metaphor, advancing the view that an analyst's participation should be grounded in actual lived awareness. Barring this, he argues, participation would have to be determined by one of a number of orienting and prescriptive metaphors (e.g., the analyst as a blank screen for the patient's projections, the analyst as an interactive participant). Relying on such metaphors, according to Wolstein, creates conditions for iatrogenic anxiety when the analyst's actual lived experience begins to exceed the metaphor (e.g.,

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