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Bromberg, P.M. (2009). Truth, Human Relatedness, and the Analytic Process: An Interpersonal/Relational Perspective. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 90(2):347-361.

(2009). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 90(2):347-361

Truth, Human Relatedness, and the Analytic Process: An Interpersonal/Relational Perspective

Philip M. Bromberg

So often has my judgment deceived me … that I always suspect it, right or wrong … For all this, I reverence truth as much as any body; and when it has slipped us, if a man will but take me by the hand, and … search for it, as for a thing we have both lost, and can neither of us do well without,—I'll go to the world's end with him.

(Laurence Sterne, 1762, pp. 292-93)

Introduction

Many years ago, while trying to please my first analytic supervisor with a story about a highly ‘compliant’ patient who had openly disagreed with something I had said about her, I described the moment as an important event in her treatment because it also made me aware that what I had said to her was not true. “What do you mean by true?” said he. Taken aback, and a bit irritated, I restated it a bit more loudly: “Um, you know—it wasn't true!” “It sounds more like it wasn't accurate”, he countered. “What do you mean by ‘accurate’?” I asked, somewhat defiantly. One thing led to another, and even though I didn't appreciate his smugness, as the supervision went on I increasingly appreciated the fact that whatever took place between us could always be talked about. But what I came to value most of all was the power of his distinction between truth and accuracy. Truth, as a subjective phenomenon, continues to have an important place in my clinical work, but only in the context of an ongoing dialectic with the intersubjective phenomenon of accuracy.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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