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Civin, M. (1997). Honouring Harold F. Searles: Introduction. Free Associations, 7(2):247-249.

(1997). Free Associations, 7(2):247-249

Honouring Harold F. Searles: Introduction

Michael Civin

My Name is Michael Civin and I am pleased to act as chair for this panel. We are privileged today to have the opportunity to honour Dr Harold F. Searles. I am certain that I speak for Drs Newirth, Hirsch and the entire audience when I say that it is a rare and valued moment for all of us and I would like to begin by thanking Dr Searles for the chance to celebrate his vast contributions to our field.

Some months ago, when this panel was in its planning stages, I attended a cocktail party at which I overheard a heated discussion among a prominent South American psychoanalyst, a physicist, and a mathematician. ‘More than anything else,’ said the physicist, with the mathematician wagging his head in fierce agreement, ‘what confounds me about your field is that you psychoanalysts get up in front of a room of people at your conferences and read your papers. We'd be laughed out of the room if we ever did such a thing.’ About this matter of reading the papers the analyst had no answer, and neither did I.

A few weeks ago, having just read a few of Dr Searles' papers, and stimulated by a supervisory session with a doctoral student, one very partial answer to this question occurred to me. I imagine that there is an attitude among many physical scientists, fuelled by a tradition of positivism even in this post-relativistic world, that what is central to them is the scientific truth, the so-called fact, that they have unveiled. Although certainly they must derive their fair share of satisfaction as the discoverers, there is no subject for the objective truth of their discovery. We analysts, on the other hand, implicitly if rarely explicitly, experience the ideas we present to have a basis in our subjectivity. The ideas are as much ours, virtually our subjective possessions, as they might ever be objective truths.

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