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Wachtel, P.L. (2002). Probing the Boundaries of the Relational Paradigm: Commentary on Paper by Jeremy Safran. Psychoanal. Dial., 12(2):207-225.

(2002). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 12(2):207-225

Probing the Boundaries of the Relational Paradigm: Commentary on Paper by Jeremy Safran Related Papers

Paul L. Wachtel, Ph.D.

In discussing the complexities and dialectical tensions inherent in the relational point of view, this commentary seeks to alert the reader to the simplifying dichotomies that can lead theory and clinical practice to be hostage to ideology. In exploring those dichotomies and their problematic implications for our work, emphasis is placed particularly on the nature of what constitutes evidence for our formulations and conclusions; the different blind spots that different epistemological positions are designed to alert us to or, at least partially, to overcome; the ways in which our efforts to transcend those blind spots often themselves create new blind spots; the relation between insight and new relational experience; the ambiguities associated with the (highly important but at times conceptually perilous) distinction between the one-person and the two-person models; and the tensions between the need to hear patients in a fashion that is affirming and accepting and the equally important need to hear their fervent wish to change what they also want to have accepted. Many of these tensions and complexities are examined in the context of a critique of Bion's claim that analysts should be “without memory or desire.”

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