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Benjamin, J. (1994). Commentary on Papers by Tansey, Davies, and Hirsch. Psychoanal. Dial., 4(2):193-201.

(1994). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 4(2):193-201

Commentary on Papers by Tansey, Davies, and Hirsch Related Papers

Jessica Benjamin, Ph.D.

To comment on these papers is a challenge. Not only does each give us an unusually frank and thoughtful description of the anxieties and second thoughts attendant on countertransference feelings, but each raises difficult questions regarding our current understanding of the overall transference-countertransference situation. In reading these rich accounts I felt grateful that my colleagues have tried to open the discussion around these issues in a fresh way. I also felt, no doubt with less gratitude, impressed by the overwhelming complexity of the analytic endeavor. Due to this complexity and in consideration of time and space, I have structured my comments by addressing each paper one by one, hoping to carry some common threads throughout.

For my taste, Hirsch's paper attempts to solve too many problems too neatly by presenting us with a choice between mutually exclusive models. Contrarily enough, my response to his presentation was to feel reinforced in my conviction—already developed in response to Mitchell's (1988) critique of mixed models—that it is possible, even necessary, to think about psychoanalysis using three or more models. Despite Hirsch's schematic portrayal of them, I am willing to live with some of the irresolvable contradictions among the three in order to embrace the contributions of each. I hope to illustrate with help of Irwin's generous case material how his own postmortem uses aspects of all three and thus contradicts some of his own assertions. But this is to be expected, for I want to defend the possibility, even necessity, of discrepancy, an uneasy tension, between our theory and practice. Even an analyst who subscribes to


Jessica Benjamin is on the faculties of the New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis and the Psychoanalytic Studies Program of the New School for Social Research.

© 1994 The Analytic Press, Inc.

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