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Spillius, E.B. (2004). Comments on Owen Renik. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 85(5):1057-1061.

(2004). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 85(5):1057-1061

Comments on Owen Renik Related Papers Language Translation

Elizabeth Bott Spillius

Owen Renik, as usual, presents an admirably brief and forceful statement of his point of view on intersubjectivity in psychoanalysis and I am pleased to have been asked to comment on it.

Renik's approach seems to me to be based on two strands of thinking. The first is that truth is what the thinker thinks it is, or, less tendentiously, although truth may exist independently of the thinker, it can only be known through the subjective experience of the thinker. The second strand is a form of what one might call sensible American pragmatism: put crudely, truth is what works.

My own tacit assumptions are different from Renik's, which makes me cautious about commenting on his work. It also leads to my sometimes having difficulty in following his thought. For example, whenever I read Renik's presentations I repeatedly have an experience of feeling myself pulled up short. I read a sentence, and I think I agree with what it says, and I think that probably other psychoanalysts would agree with it too. It is then followed by a second sentence which Renik evidently thinks follows logically from the first, but I don't agree with the second sentence at all. I then realise that I don't know how the transition occurred. Either there is something wrong with my understanding, or there is some flaw in the logic of the sequence. Whatever the reason, I find myself stopped in my tracks by the experience, and I find it difficult to go on until I've looked at it more closely.

For example, near the beginning of the paper Renik says, Insight is something co-created by analyst and patient as much as it is something discovered by analyst and patient.

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