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Markman, H. (2010). “In This Room at This Time”: The Subtle Radicalism of Michael Feldman's clinical contribution. Fort Da, 16(2):9-21.

(2010). Fort Da, 16(2):9-21

“In This Room at This Time”: The Subtle Radicalism of Michael Feldman's clinical contribution

Henry Markman, M.D.

Miles Davis, when asked how he approached soloing, responded: “I always listen for what I can leave out.” As a result, Davis's style was direct, simple, and to-the-point, without sacrificing nuance or depth. This is what we find stylistically and substantively in Michael Feldman's papers, which focus almost exclusively on praxis — the practice of the particular sort of work the analyst does in the consultation room. The recent publication of Feldman's Doubt, Conviction and the Analytic Process (2009) offers a welcome opportunity to consider his written contributions as a whole, and the unique and important voice he adds to discussions of technique.

For Feldman, the kind of work involved in doing analysis is a constant internal monitoring of the ways the analyst is affected and at times pressured by the patient, and an awareness of the analyst's own need for security. Two main themes are woven throughout his clinical thinking. First, Feldman is concerned with the fragile nature of the creative analytic couple, and the ways either or both — commonly both — close off areas of anxiety, novelty, and disruption. This concern naturally leads him to investigate the analyst's states of mind. Feldman shows how the analytic's attention — on the patient's past, aspects of the patient's self, concerns with technique and correct interpretations, etc. — often move the analyst and patient away from what is most emotionally relevant in the present moment. He underscores the analyst's need for security and refuge from the intensity of the relationship, finding safety in theory, history, and abstraction, or enactment. A second related theme is Feldman's sensitivity to the sort of unconscious object he represents for the patient. He stresses the importance of tolerating the tension involved in living out this object relationship, resisting the pressure to avoid the place the patient has put him in.

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