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Hamilton, V. (1993). Truth and Reality in Psychoanalytic Discourse. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 74:63-79.

(1993). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 74:63-79

Truth and Reality in Psychoanalytic Discourse

Victoria Hamilton


In this paper, I examine the influences of two philosophical theories of truth—coherence and correspondence—on the current debate on the search for 'common ground' and on specific aspects of clinical practice. Results from a previous empirical study of analysts' approaches to transference interpretation are described in order to illustrate the way in which a network of clinical concepts is held together by explicit and implicit beliefs concerning the nature of subjectivity, truth and reality. Excerpts from interviews of psychoanalysts of varying orientations practising in different geographical locations indicate the complex interrelationships between concepts of analytic neutrality, extra-transference, the real relationship, countertransference, the death instinct and the therapeutic alliance. These findings suggest that the coherence versus correspondence theories of truth may constrain rather than enhance the investigation of the differences and commonality between varying analytic theories, schools and clinical practices.

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