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de Peyer, J. (2002). Reply to Commentaries. Psychoanal. Dial., 12(4):545-549.

(2002). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 12(4):545-549

Reply to Commentaries Related Papers

Janine de Peyer, C.S.W.

I am Grateful for the Opportunity to Reply to these Provocative and distinctive commentaries on my article. The process of writing can sometimes draw one into a world of uncharted territory. When working on my original paper, part of me, one step ahead of myself, was vaguely aware that I was cracking open doors through which I might not be ready to pass. The interactive process of reading first Susie Orbach's, then Virginia Goldner's responses has thrown open some of those doors, forcing me to choose which path to take.

In addition to taking up some of Orbach's and Goldner's clinical and theoretical points, I feel compelled to address the interactive process itself that has emerged among the three of us in these written pieces, forming, I believe, a fascinating enactment around a central issue of shame.

The capacity to sit with ambiguity and profoundly dark material is a prerequisite to our work with certain patients. The personal issues that are stirred up require tremendous ongoing self-reflection and can greatly benefit from regular processing with colleagues. I appreciate that Susie Orbach introduces “Thomaso” from her own work, a man whose descriptions of “scenes of depravity and degradation” stirred in her an “unreflected and squeamish response.” Orbach describes her attempt to understand the source of her own fear, and the quandary of how to exist in “his idiom” yet survive it. Although she, too, struggles to fathom the meaning of her reactions, I question her conclusion that “[her] panic stemmed not from [her] own ‘perversity’ but from [her] naivety and [her] propensity to not know about such practices.” My difficulty with Richard had less to do with my lack of knowledge about sadomasochistic sexual practices than with my discomfort with the sadomasochistic transference-countertransference dynamics that were playing out between us. Indeed it was through the cocreated transference-countertransference experience that Richard's intrapsychic sadomasochistic dynamics, including his themes of eroticism, found active expression.

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