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Hinshelwood, R.D. (1986). Eclecticism: the impossible project — a response to Deryck Dyne. Free Associations, 1(5):23-27.

(1986). Free Associations, 1(5):23-27

Eclecticism: the impossible project — a response to Deryck Dyne

R. D. Hinshelwood

I remember my Professor of Anatomy, way back at Medical School, saying apropos of the classification of biological species, ‘The world is divided into two kinds of people, lumpers and splitters’. Perhaps much later I subliminally recalled this advice when deciding on a Kleinian training. Deryck Dyne, in his article on ‘Questions of “Training”’ in Free Associations 3 (pp. 92-147), dwells extensively upon some remarks about eclecticism I made in an earlier issue. He slowly mounts a massive case for the good sense of the ‘synthesizing endeavour’. His dignified plea for a respectful attitude to eclecticism constantly refers to my own article in such a way that it might be held that I was frowning with disapproval on such efforts. Can I take a little further space to respond to his majestic apologia, and make two points — one in defence of my own arguments and one in response to his claim for the eclectic project.

Firstly, his retort (in tone) suggests a hurt done to eclecticism by my attempt at a public interpretation of the psychodynamics of our profession. I would like to correct this by first of all admiring the eclectic project. The effort in my own article was to try to explore the fissures in the structure of our profession as it is, and the grains of sand that insert themselves in these fissures to cause painful frictions. Where a human organization (at this moment I mean the whole organization of psychotherapists) is internally structured (and one can hardly conceive of an organization that is not), the intergroup dynamics are potential sites of paranoid projections employed to alleviate guilt and other anxiety. Some organizations are particularly prone to these kinds of intergroup relations, especially when the work of the organization entails intense anxieties (in this case, resulting from the responsibility for others' anguish and psychological health).

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