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Carlton, L. (2007). Reply to Seligman and Slavin Panel Four. Int. J. Psychoanal. Self Psychol., 2(1):115-116.

(2007). International Journal of Psychoanalytic Self Psychology, 2(1):115-116

Reply to Seligman and Slavin Panel Four Related Papers

Lucyann Carlton, J.D., Psy. D.

Slavin and Seligman engage our ongoing question: “How does analysis cure?” at different levels. Both offer a relational perspective. Slavin emphasizes the “real” in the present-day relationship between analyst and analysand. Seligman emphasizes the fantasied, intrapsychic, and transferential. Seligman questions whether my methodology affects therapeutic efficacy. He wonders whether Renee would have been better served had I stayed more with the primitive, destructive, and terrifying. I interpret Seligman's discussion to ask, “When is it therapeutic to give voice to the trailing edge of past trauma and abuse, rather than the leading edge: the hopeful, loving, or healthy strivings?” “Is this clinical decision more influenced by the patient's or the analyst's needs?” Space here does not allow the complexity of these issues to be fully elaborated. I do hope that they will be taken up in future discussions. These are critical concerns that cannot be answered from the theoretician's desk but only in the immediacy of a specific clinical moment.

I respond briefly to the direct questions that were posed. Seligman asked whether my decision to present Renee was a “miscalculation.” In a narrow sense, yes, I did miscalculate. When I asked her permission, I anticipated that, regardless of her answer, words would be sufficient. Not “mere words,” as Seligman terms it, but words that expressed and contained her affect and our thoughts; words that expressed the feelings within our relationship. I had not calculated that the intense, dissociative, and violent enactments would occur. In a broader sense, I did not miscalculate. Our relationship did withstand the working through of the feelings that were generated when I asked for her permission to use our relationship in a way that benefited me. The dissociated, rageful reactions eventually were moved into the analysis. Even the secret writings were read, by her to me, and worked through between us.

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