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Sucharov, M.S. (2019). Response to Sandmeyer. Psychoanal. Self. Cxt., 14(2):111-115.

(2019). Psychoanalysis, Self, and Context, 14(2):111-115


Response to Sandmeyer

Maxwell S. Sucharov, M.D.

I want to thank Janna Sandmeyer for her very insightful, perceptive, and sensitive discussion of my article. Her questions, observations, and interpretive suggestions have not only left me with a deeper and more complex understanding of my therapeutic engagement with J but also provided a more dynamic understanding of the ongoing interpenetration of therapeutic process with historical context, especially cataclysmic historical trauma as exemplified by World War II and the Holocaust. Regarding historical context, Sandmeyer reminds us that what is relevant is how we experience our history, how we make sense of it.

I am especially impressed that from a brief clinical vignette Sandmeyer has grasped so much of my relational dance with J as if she were a fly on the wall for the entire treatment: She observed that for the dyad, history seemed to have stopped at World War II and the Holocaust, correctly attributing this to cataclysmic collective intergenerational trauma. And just as Plenty Coups resorted to imaginative realms to restore meaning to his traumatized tribe, Sandmeyer picks up on my liberal use of imaginative play with J as a vitalizing strategy to move J beyond his traumatic paralysis. Most important, she astutely tuned in to my discomfort with the giant discrepancy in economic power between J and I, a discomfort accompanied by reluctance on my part to acknowledge J as other.

Sandmeyer then followed up on the latter observation concerning my struggle with J’s otherness with what I believe to be a very illuminating conjecture that the dialectical tension between sameness and difference constituted a central vehicle to therapeutic transformation.

[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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