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Schafer, R. (1996). Authority, Evidence, And Knowledge In The Psychoanalytic Relationship.. Psychoanal Q., 65:236-253.

(1996). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 65:236-253

Authority, Evidence, And Knowledge In The Psychoanalytic Relationship.

Roy Schafer, Ph.D.


This discussion traces the complex interplay of transference and countertransference in the clinical construction of evidence and knowledge and the establishing of analytic authority in the psychoanalytic relationship. Both participants are variably reliable sources of evidence on their own subjective experiences and on those of the other. By reliable demonstrations of understanding, responsibility, capacity for containment, openness, and flexibility, the analyst not only earns analytic authority but contributes to the analysand's development toward authority in coauthoring the analysis. The discussion closes with comments on the epistemological controversy concerning evidence and truth within a perspective that is narrativistic and pluralistic.

Who Is To Be Believed?

Complex transference-countertransference processes play major roles in determining the availability, communication, and consequences of clinical psychoanalytic evidence. To a large extent, these processes decide which evidence will be regarded as convincing and why that is so. Consequently, it can only be the slow, arduous analysis of transference and countertransference that will lead the co-participants to durable, rational, and useful agreements on evidential matters.

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