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Margulies, A. (1999). A Review Essay on Ritual and Spontaneity in the Psychoanalytic Process: A Dialectical-Constructivist View: Irwin Z. Hoffman. Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press, 1998. xxxii + 310 pp.. Contemp. Psychoanal., 35:699-712.

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(1999). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 35(4):699-712

The End of Analysis? or, Our Postmodern Existential Situation

A Review Essay on Ritual and Spontaneity in the Psychoanalytic Process: A Dialectical-Constructivist View: Irwin Z. Hoffman. Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press, 1998. xxxii + 310 pp.

Review by:
Alfred Margulies, M.D.

Revisiting a Classic

FOR MANY OF US, Irwin Hoffman's surprising — yet inevitable — 1991 paper introducing social constructivism seemed a manifesto for a fresh perspective. And what a surprise it was! Written as a reply to other papers (can you think of another discussion that had such an impact?), it established the epistemological underpinning for a new psychoanalytic metapsychology that had been gathering force for years. Something in the air — something we already almost knew — crystallized in a vision that was clear and whole in its dimensions. Hoffman saw its outlines, its philosophical commitments, its value; he understood the stakes on a deep level and, just in time, stated its principal features with clarity and elegance.

A different step is required, one that has to do specifically with the kind of knowledge that the participants are thought to have of themselves and of each other. The paradigm changes, in my view, only when the idea of the analyst's personal involvement is wedded to a constructivist or perspectivist epistemological position. Only in effecting that integration is the idea of the analyst's participation in the process taken fully into account. By this I mean, very specifically, that the personal participation of the analyst in the process is considered to have a continuous effect on what he or she understands about himself or herself and about the patient in the interaction. [p. 136]

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