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Richards, A.K. Richards, A.D. (1995). Response to Our Respondents. J. Clin. Psychoanal., 4(4):543-564.

(1995). Journal of Clinical Psychoanalysis, 4(4):543-564


Response to Our Respondents Related Papers

Arlene Kramer Richards and Arnold D. Richards

Our paper can be read in two different ways. First, as a discussion of the relation or lack of relation between theory and technique. Second, as an attempt at comparative psychoanalysis. Using a clinical case vignette discussed by ourselves and then explicated from different theoretical points of view, we undertook a kind of psychoanalytic thought experiment in which we imagined what analysts from different schools of thought would say.

We recognized that this design was flawed from the start because it used data already shaped by the theoretical approach of the presenters. As Ornstein puts it in his commentary: “This database may be unsuitable for a comparative assessment because it was obtained with a different observational and treatment method guided by a different theory” (p. 494). Nevertheless, we hoped that responses to our clinical thought experiment by contributors from other schools would sharpen the fundamental differences in theory and technique. We have long believed that the discussions on comparative psychoanalysis in the literature suffer from a lack of conceptual and definitional clarity. The emphasis usually is on different theorists responding to detailed clinical material without focusing on their fundamental premises and the relationship between these premises and technique.

Fosshage faults us for not having representatives of each theory explicate their viewpoint and address detailed clinical material. This format was followed in two issues of Psychoanalytic Inquiry, one based on a case by Martin Silverman and the other on a case by Fosshage himself. Our sense was that in both these PI issues discussion of fundamental concepts got lost in the wealth of clinical detail. We hoped to give theoretical issues a better platform in the debate.

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