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Schwaber, E.A. (1997). Response. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 78:1222.

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


Evelyne Albrecht Schwaber

Dear Sir

Although, as I have indicated, I have consistently argued that the analyst must employ her perspective to help her locate the patient’s, the clinical and epistemological stance embedded in my position remains different from that of Dr Gabbard. It is one thing to draw upon our vantage point to enable us to observe something we might share with the patient, the psychic meaning of which we may not know and is yet to be discovered, and another to use it to infer the ‘unconscious intent’ of the patient. The former position facilitates our inquiry into a far greater range of yet unexplored data, a matter which I tried to indicate in my response to the clinical example. The questions I raise regarding this vignette do not have to do with a problem of psychoanalytic discourse in which space is a concern, but with what I view as a problem inherent in a clinical stance which leaves aside inquiry into further potential information about the patient’s still unconscious meaning because the analyst believed, based on his own vantage point, that he already knew it—that is, that the feelings he derived from his position as ‘object’ offered him not only an awareness of his difference, but a greater ‘objectivity’ about what was unconscious to the patient. In presuming that because he felt ‘bullied’ and ‘overwhelmed’ (as apparently had other men in her life) it was the patient’s unconscious intent for him to feel this, the analyst blurred the distinction between their different vantage points, a leap of inference foreclosing exploration of communications that may have led to yet uncharted paths, and to other possibilities in the patient’s unconscious meaning.

As may be gleaned from past correspondence, my persistent effort to search for the nuances in the patient’s vantage point, while drawing upon what I know of my own, has nonetheless led to a not infrequent critique that I am suggesting that the analyst can somehow divest herself of her own separate experience. That is surely not the case, but I do propose that the sustained recognition that our vantage point, even our view of ourselves, is simply that—our own view— and does not yet tell us the patient’s, has profound clinical and conceptual implications with which we might yet grapple.


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