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Rothstein, A. (2005). Getting to Know Ed Better. Contemp. Psychoanal., 41(4):743-747.

(2005). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 41(4):743-747

Getting to Know Ed Better Related Papers

Arnold Rothstein, M.D.

I am grateful for the opportunity to discuss Dr. Hirsch's and Dr. Iannuzzi's interview because, although I have known Dr. Levenson for a quarter of a century, the interview helped me to know him better. I first met Dr. Levenson in 1981, when I invited him to present his understanding of the Sullivanian paradigm to a meeting on “Models of the Mind,” sponsored by the American Psychoanalytic Association. In gratitude for his many contributions, I subsequently nominated Dr. Levenson for honorary membership in “The American.”

In contrast to the current interview, Levenson (1981) was very clear about his psychoanalytic theory. He stated: “I would claim that the clear line of schism between interpersonalist and Freudian remains the search for the truth behind appearances versus the search for the truth inherent in appearances. For the Freudian, the key question is what does it truly mean? For the interpersonalist, the question is: what's going on around here?” (Levenson, 1981, p. 53). Levenson emphasized in that paper that his understanding derived from Sullivan's (1956) view that “no one has grave difficulties in living if he has a very good grasp of what is happening to him” (p. 49).

In 1981, Levenson spoke from the perspective of revolutionary paradigm competition. In the ensuing quarter century he has shifted toward a more evolutionary perspective on the development of psychoanalytic theory. He states in the interview, “Part of what happened to me is it began to sink in after a while that the Freudians had something. You know, we were throwing the baby out with the bath water.” He continues, “I have a great appreciation of the Freudian perspective, because I think over the years it has been possible for me to think about it more.”

The interview is particularly interesting to me because in content it reflects the evolution of Levenson's thinking, while in form it seems to be paradigmatic of his therapeutic methodology. My reading of the interview is that it begins from the perspective of the interviewers' idealization of Dr. Levenson.

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