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Stern, S. (1994). Needed Relationships and Repeated Relationships: An Integrated Relational Perspective. Psychoanal. Dial., 4(3):317-346.

(1994). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 4(3):317-346

Needed Relationships and Repeated Relationships: An Integrated Relational Perspective Related Papers

Steven Stern, PSYD

This paper proposes a conceptual and clinical integration of contemporary psychoanalytic theories that emphasize the repetitive dimension of the transference (the repeated relationship) and those that stress the developmental or selfobject dimension (the needed relationship). Such an integration is accomplished by enlarging our conception of the communicative matrix that includes transference, projective identification, and countertransference. It is suggested that patients actively seek to enlist the therapist both in old pathogenic interactional scenarios and in new therapeutically needed relational configurations. Thus, contrary to recent criticisms of the developmental paradigm, the therapist does not have to look outside the transference-countertransference matrix for a model of the developmentally needed relationship: the patient communicates it through a creative, proactive form of projective identification. The work of Racker, Sandler, Winnicott, Bollas, and various self psychologists is reviewed and found to support this reconceptualization. The paper then examines the theory of analytic cure in the light of this integrated perspective. It is suggested that the most compelling theories take into account the analyst's “embeddedness” in the transference-countertransference while recognizing the importance of the analyst's “mastering the countertransference” as the basis for providing a new developmental experience. The therapeutic models of Racker, Bollas, and Newman are described as exemplary in this regard.

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