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Alvarez, A. (1984). From Mrs Anne Alvarez. J. Child Psychother., 10(1):123-123.

(1984). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 10(1):123-123

From Mrs Anne Alvarez

Anne Alvarez

The Editor

Journal of Child Psychotherapy

Dear Madam,

I enjoyed Lorne Loxterkamp's interesting criticism of my paper and wish to reply in some detail. Mr. Loxterkamp says he doesn't feel he has an adequate understanding of what it is to engage in an appraisal of an emotion. Well — psychotherapy is a risky business — we are not behaviourists or positivists. We do use, and I believe need to use, metaphorical language and concepts which often shade over from description into evaluation and appraisal. In my view, it is safer to acknowledge this fact of our work, and of human relationships, than to attempt to erase it too neatly. Honesty about and work on counter-transference experiences makes proper description more, not less, likely. It is preferable of course when this process goes on inside the therapist so the patient gets something nearer to a description than an overheated evaluation. But adequate descriptions have to be conveyed.

In this context, I am sorry that I do not agree that when I looked away from the child and became a bit weary and cool with him, I looked depressed. Previously, I think that on occasion this had happened. When it did, the child reacted either with unthinking terror and became placating, or at the later period described in this paper when he was much less afraid, he reacted with relish to interpretations about my depression and pressed on even more relentlessly. I believe that at the final stage described in the paper I gave an impression of firmness which had more to do with being quietly and knowingly weary of something than with drooping and defeated depression.

Also, I have to say in my defence that I had interpreted the family circumstances. But children in psychopathic states use explanations such as these as excuses. I do write on page 19, paragraph 2: “After many years of interpreting the intense motives …”. But of course this relies on the reader's “willing suspension of disbelief”; I am sorry I didn't get this from Mr. Loxterkamp.


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