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Stanton, M. (1992). Harold Searles talks to Martin Stanton. Free Associations, 3(3):323-339.

(1992). Free Associations, 3(3):323-339

The Free Associations Interview

Harold Searles talks to Martin Stanton

Martin Stanton

Harold Searles is perhaps best known as an eminent pioneer of psychoanalytic work with schizophrenics. This is neither an easy nor peaceful area in which to work: residual schizophrenia is classically regarded as ‘incurable’, so most psychoanalysts and clinicians are still unlikely to recommend psychoanalysis as appropriate treatment for chronic schizophrenic disorders. Despite this, Searles has always been insightfully outspoken and willing to dispute the autocracy of the notion of ‘cure’ in such areas: even if psychoanalysis cannot totally remove the major diagnostic criteria evoked in the ‘schizophrenia’ section of DSM 3R (1987, pp. 194-8), it can record significant and even vital improvement in patients' quality of life. Furthermore, his courage and innovation in this area — most notably in his analyses of twenty or more years with schizophrenics — have never neatly fitted into some endogenous system constructed around the patient. For Searles, countertransference phenomena — the analyst's positive and negative, more or less conscious, responses to the patient's elaborations — evoke vital questions about both sides of the authority structure of analysis, notably about what the analyst hopes to learn (hence perhaps cure) in the interpreted world constructed around the consulting room.

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