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Gabbard, G.O. (1997). Response. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 78:1221-1222.

(1997). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 78:1221-1222


Glen O. Gabbard

Dear Sir

I appreciate Dr Schwaber’s clarification of her position. I’m pleased that she acknowledges the value of speaking from the analyst’s vantage point, however different it may be from the patient’s conscious perspective. On the other hand, I am concerned that Dr Schwaber has not fully understood the main thrust of my argument when she says, ‘The analyst’s inference about the patient’s unconscious intentionality does not make him more objective’. This is not my argument. Dr Schwaber is invoking the meaning of ‘objective’ as having a corner on the truth of the situation. As I argued in the paper, ‘The analyst’s position as an object, external to the thinking mind or subjectivity of the patient, offers a vantage point from which the analyst can share observations that are different from the patient’s by virtue of being external to the patient. Indeed, the patient’s unconscious intentions are often most accessible through the analyst’s careful scrutiny of his or her “object” responses’ (p. 15). In other words, it is not that the analyst has a greater access to some elusive truth about the patient. Rather, the analyst responds like other ‘objects’ in the patient’s world, although that response is inevitably filtered through the analyst’s subjectivity and therefore modified by that subjectivity to some extent.

Dr Schwaber and I both agree that a rigorous inquiry into the mutual influence of the analyst’s subjectivity and that of the patient is necessary for psychoanalytic work. We also share the view that the analyst may recognize aspects of the patient that escape the patient’s awareness. Dr Schwaber notes that I fail to address an entire array of responses or potential ones in the patient.

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