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Spurling, L. (2009). On: The Comments of Lesley Caldwell. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 90(2):377-377.

(2009). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 90(2):377-377

On: The Comments of Lesley Caldwell Related Papers

Laurence Spurling

Dear Editors,

I was gratified to read the letter from Lesley Caldwell, which so well reflects and amplifies my own struggles with the concept of ‘regression’ in general and ‘therapeutic regression’ in particular. In fact my article is really only the latest version of a number of earlier attempts, some of which reached different conclusions about the value of these terms. I agree with Lesley Caldwell that the idea of regression continues to inspire productive debate within psychoanalysis, and, indeed, in these times when psychoanalytic thinking is generally under attack for going too deep, may be thought of as capturing something both essential and precious about the analytic approach. I also agree that, when it comes down to it, the argument about the usefulness of the idea of regression is more clinical than theoretical, i.e. looking at and thinking about what the analyst actually does in response to the patient. In this regard, I found useful the idea of the task of the analyst to be that of helping the patient ‘metaphorize’ these kinds of deep and profound experiences, which I take to mean find a language which is both meaningful and evocative. However, techniques do have an intimate relationship with concepts. I have found for myself that it was an important part of my own development that I could free myself from the idea of therapeutic regression. In a way, then, my article can be seen to be not only about the usefulness of the idea of regression, but also about the way we can become bewitched by concepts and what we might need to do in order to regain our independence as thinkers and clinicians.

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