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Stolorow, R.D. (1994). More Integrative Than Thou: Commentary on Steven Stern's “Needed Relationships”. Psychoanal. Dial., 4(3):353-355.

(1994). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 4(3):353-355

More Integrative Than Thou: Commentary on Steven Stern's “Needed Relationships” Related Papers

Robert D. Stolorow, Ph.D.

Stern is to be commended for his elegant and valuable proposal of an integrated relational model of the transference-countertransference system. His model is, in some respects, broadly compatible with the one my collaborators and I previously offered (Stolorow, Brandchaft, and Atwood, 1987, chap. 7), but there are two notable exceptions to this apparent harmony.

The first concerns Stern's insistence that our view of transference as consisting of two basic dimensions (the selfobject and the repetitive) oscillating between the foreground and background of the patient's experience is not “truly integrative,” a curious claim since he seems to make extensive use of our formulation in his own integrative effort. Stern grossly oversimplifies our views when he classifies us as “Paradigm II” theorists and declares that we “propose an integration that is based primarily in Paradigm II.” Similarly, when he mistakenly attributes to us a belief that interpretation of Type I transference is necessary “mainly as a way to restore the Type II connection when it has been disrupted,” Stern overlooks our (Atwood and Stolorow, 1984; Stolorow et al., 1987; Stolorow and Atwood, 1992) long-standing emphasis on the central therapeutic importance of investigating and illuminating the patient's invariant organizing principles (what we term the “prereflective unconscious”), particularly as they become manifest in the repetitive dimension of the transference. Consider, as one of innumerable possible examples, the following:


Dr. Stolorow is a Faculty Member and Training and Supervising Analyst at the Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis, Los Angeles, and Core Faculty Member at the Institute for the Psychoanalytic Study of Subjectivity, New York City.

© 1994 The Analytic Press

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