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Fonagy, P. (2000). On the Relationship of Experimental Psychology and Psychoanalysis Commentary by Peter Fonagy. Neuropsychoanalysis, 2(2):222-232.

(2000). Neuropsychoanalysis, 2(2):222-232

On the Relationship of Experimental Psychology and Psychoanalysis Commentary by Peter Fonagy Related Papers

Peter Fonagy, Ph.D.

It is by universal misunderstanding that all agree. For if, by ill luck, people understood each other, they would never agree [Charles Baudelaire, Intimate Journals, 1877].

The Obvious Misunderstanding

I gradually realized that I must have totally misunderstood Paul Whittle's superb, elegant essay, filled to the brim with wisdom, humor, and staggering cultural and historical perspective. I surmised that I must have misunderstood him because I found myself in almost total agreement with everything he wrote. Yet I thought I held the diametrically opposite view.

I chuckled at his description of psychologists and psychoanalysts reading each other's papers, the implausibility of a debate, the profound misunder standings that are inevitably entailed in critiques, psychoanalysts' nave and misinformed perceptions of psychologists, and psychologists' incredulity that such things as psychoanalysts still existed. I shuddered with painful recognition when, describing exceptions to his rule, he accurately diagnosed that the individuals who attempt to bridge the divide “are disregarded or thought of as ‘unsound’ by one or both sides.” He is so obviously right that the overwhelming situation is still one of separation.

His metaphor of the gulf, gap, or chasm between psychoanalysis and psychology generated associations to dreams I used to have as a child where, standing on an elevated, unstable surface, I suddenly found myself falling and aware of the inevitability of a disastrous end.

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