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Gabbard, G.O. (1994). A Response to Davies (But Not the Last Word). Psychoanal. Dial., 4(3):509-510.

(1994). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 4(3):509-510

A Response to Davies (But Not the Last Word)

Glen O. Gabbard, M.D.

I welcome the opportunity to reply to Dr. Davies's thoughtful discussion of my commentary.

I believe Dr. Davies misunderstands my commentary in two principal areas. First, she appears to believe that I equate the analyst's choice not to acknowledge verbally the presence of sexual fantasies toward the patient with projective disavowal of the analyst's participation in the erotic reenactment and an overpathologizing of the patient's role. In fact, I think the awareness of one's own contribution to the enactment is what informs the analyst's decision to refrain from frank acknowledgment of sexual fantasies or feelings for the patient. I share Davies's view that both regarding the erotic nature of the enactment as residing only in the patient and shutting down exploration of the enactment are to be avoided. There is, however, a vast middle ground of exploratory activity between inaction or projective disavowal, on one hand, and open disclosure of erotic feelings on the other.

The other misunderstanding relates to my view of gender distinctions. Davies wonders if I view male sadism in response to female masochism as a normal component of sexual arousal while regarding female sadism in response to male masochism as abnormal. Quite the contrary. The desire to harm or degrade is a component of normal sexuality in both males and females in any gender configuration, as Stoller (1979) stressed and as I have discussed elsewhere (Gabbard, in press). I emphasized that I was not pathologizing the response in males only because I was discussing a vignette involving a male analyst.

As Davies notes, our areas of disagreement are less prominent than our areas of agreement. The essential difference in our perspectives boils down to our perception of the usefulness of self-disclosing the


Dr. Gabbard is Distinguished Professor, The Menninger Clinic, and Training and Supervising Analyst, Topeka Institute for Psychoanalysis.

© 1994 The Analytic Press

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