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Sweetnam, A. (1999). Reply to Commentary. Psychoanal. Dial., 9(3):363-370.

(1999). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 9(3):363-370

Reply to Commentary Related Papers

Annie Sweetnam, Ph.D.

I Am Honored To Receive Such A Stimulating And Erudite Response from Dr. Dimen. Her constant nudging toward the realm of the missing, the assumed, or the biased in my work provides me with the opportunity to clarify some of my thinking and some of the differences about psychoanalytic theory and practice that extend beyond differences between Dimen and me.

At first, it appears that Dimen's primary criticism of my article is that it undertheorizes, specifically about the ontological and epistemological status of the body. But, having paused to give thought to this criticism, I then hear Dimen tell me that in fact not only do I have a theory but she knows what theory I have even though I didn't state it. To boot, my assumed theory is a theory that overtheorizes in making absolutist and universal claims. For Dimen, it seems that if one is not an out constructionist then one must be a closet essentialist. She seems to think that she has outed me.

Dimen wishes that I would be clear about my theory and also seems to believe that there are few theoretical possibilities. It is as though she is caught in the dichotomizing she so rails against, as she intimates that one is either an essentialist or a constructionist. Although she cedes that there may be an “in-between” possibility and cites Stein (1992) as an example of someone who has posited such a theoretical position (in-between determinism and constructionism), there is no room or tolerance for a more ambiguous, purposefully fluid theoretical reading of my paper. It is as though she tries to force me to take a stand, to put me into a camp.

Having said that, I shall now take the opportunity to try to spell out more clearly my overall theoretical views as they pertain to my paper and to Dimen's questions and critique—first, concerning my overall approach to clinical material; second, concerning the theoretical status of the body; and, third, concerning the theories of the psychological positions and the erotic third.


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