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Bauknight, R. Appelbaum, R. (1997). AIDS, death, and the analytic frame. Free Associations, 7(1):81-100.

(1997). Free Associations, 7(1):81-100

AIDS, death, and the analytic frame

Rebecca Bauknight, Ph.D. and Robert Appelbaum

This paper is a collaborative but not a corporate effort, and it will not be expressed through a corporate voice, a putatively unanimous ‘we.’ One of its ‘authors,’ a clinical psychologist practicing psychoanalytic therapy, is responding to a clinical experience, an episode in the treatment of a patient dying of AIDS, a gay man here given the fictional name ‘Chris.’ She is responding to that experience as well as to perceived limitations, disjunctions, and inequities in the frame through which the experience might be conventionally managed and perceived, the frame of analysis both as a theory and as an institutional structure. The other ‘author,’ a literary historian, is responding to a motif in letters and critical theory, the idea of the frame, the circumambient frontier of an artwork, or a performance, or an interpretive encounter with either kind of text; he is responding to the idea of the frame as it is being worked out in letters and critical theory, and to what he perceives as the hegemony of the frame in cases where the frame is inadequately recognized, theorized, and challenged.

This discussion of the frame, of course, is already framed, both by its presentation as a ‘discussion’ with a certain kind of readership in mind, and by these prefatory remarks. There may be no escaping the frame except by way of psychosis. But the remarks of the two authors writing from two perspectives which are incorporated within the frame of this text will not attempt to frame one another; they will not be embedded in one another. Which means, perhaps, they will not be hierarchized. It will be enough even if from different perspectives and through the means of different critical languages they speak with one another and to one another as well as to the publics for which they have been prepared.

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