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Pilgrim, D. (1985). Correspondence. Free Associations, 1C(2):149-150.

(1985). Free Associations, 1C(2):149-150


Dave Pilgrim

Dear Editors,

Following the invitation in your editorial for opinion by letter (in the excellent first volume of Free Associations) I would like to float a topic that has special significance for psychoanalysis in Britain. How are radical psychoanalysts and psychotherapists working in private practice going to sustain credibility for their opinions in the labour movement? Or, coming at the issue from a different angle, to what degree are these practitioners an inevitable product of history, versus how much should we hold them politically and morally responsible for their lifestyle? Do people in this category become theoreticians who advocate ideas to shift the consciousness of those around them in a radical direction yet practise in a style that is indistinguishable from Harley Street specialists?

Two counter-arguments I am aware of are that: such criticisms from outside the boundaries of Hampstead, and other middle-class metropolitan areas, are motivated by envy; and that the negotiations surrounding the fee are of such central therapeutic significance that money must change hands in the interests of client insights. The first of these may have a partial truth, though substantial personal knowledge is required of critics to make the charge stick. Whether true or not, it is a psychologistic argument which misses the point of the political (i.e. supra-individual) debate between right and left concerning health care free at the time of need. Likewise, the second counter-argument has a partial validity, i. e. the fee, like every transaction between therapist and client, is loaded with meanings that can be de-coded, but we cannot be expected to believe that psychotherapy cannot take place in the absence of a fee.

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