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Ringstrom, P.A. (1999). Exploring the Patient's “Interiority”—When to Engage and When to Hold: Commentary on Paper by Joyce Slochower. Psychoanal. Dial., 9(6):825-837.

(1999). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 9(6):825-837

Exploring the Patient's “Interiority”—When to Engage and When to Hold: Commentary on Paper by Joyce Slochower Related Papers

Philip A. Ringstrom, Ph.D., Psy.D

In her 1996 Volume, Holding and Psychoanalysis: A Relational Perspective, Slochower expressed her conviction that the relational psychoanalysts' emphasis on mutuality may be experienced as noxious by patients who find the articulation of certain affects unbearable or for whom intersubjective relating is beyond their capacity. For these patients, therapeutic restraint in the form of “holding” was prescribed. In the current article, Slochower extends this thesis to cover not only these conditions but also clinical contexts in which mutual engagement inhibits the emergence of the patient's experience of “interiority”—that is, to be able to hold onto one's own experience of solidity without requiring external validation or recognition.

Although the relational perspective is much broader than this active-engagement caricature, as Slochower (1996) acknowledged it is often in its departure from previous traditions that a new perspective becomes most prominently known (Aron, personal communication). Hence, one frequently hears of the relational perspective as involving doggedly curious exploration (Mitchell, 1988, 1993, 1997), analyst's self-disclosure (Davies, 1994; Aron, 1996), mutual recognition (Benjamin, 1988, 1992, 1995), and acts of spontaneity such as “throwing away the book” (Hoffman, 1994, 1998) and improvisation (Ringstrom, 1997).

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