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Grossman, L. (1996). Psychic Reality And Perversions. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 77:1233.

(1996). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 77:1233

Psychic Reality And Perversions

Lee Grossman

Dear Sir:

I would like to clarify a point in Betty Denzler's report on the panel ‘Psychic reality and perversions’ (IJPA, 77: 61-66). Dr Denzler reported that ‘Grossman's words suggest that he regarded [perverse] patients as dishonest, although he denied this when asked’ (p. 66). If Dr Denzler heard me as denying that suggestion, then I did not make my views plain. As I indicated in the full text of my paper (abbreviated for presentation), I do in fact regard the pervasive disavowal of reality that I call perverse defenses as a form of dishonesty. In fact, I would suggest that ‘the pervasive disavowal of reality’ is a pretty good definition of dishonesty.

Dr Denzler seemed to think I was calling perverse patients immoral when she wrote: ‘The seemingly immoral attitude of perverse patients … is … a response to … anxieties’. But I was not equating dishonesty with immorality. From the perspective of the analyst, the morality of dishonesty is irrelevant. The dishonesty I refer to is perceiving something to be one way and then deceiving oneself in order to act as if it were otherwise—and I understand that to be motivated by anxiety or other psychic pain. We do not take up dishonesty in analysis because it is immoral; we take it up when it interferes with optimal functioning, and we take it up in order to help with the underlying pain.

Dishonesty is not exempt from psychological understanding just because it has a pejorative meaning in social usage. Neither our capacity for empathy nor our willingness to see things as they are should be abandoned when we encounter dishonesty in our patients.

I hope the forthcoming publication of the full text of my paper will make my thoughts on the matter more accessible.


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