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Ringstrom, P.A. (2012). Commentary on Paper by Lauren Levine. Psychoanal. Dial., 22(4):478-488.

(2012). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 22(4):478-488

Commentary on Paper by Lauren Levine

Philip A. Ringstrom, Psy.D.

Shame isn't always the enemy, sometimes it's the informant.

Having spent the last decade exploring creative processes in psychoanalytic treatment, it is a pleasure to have the opportunity to expand upon some of Dr. Lauren Levine's ideas in her paper “Into Thin Air: The Co-Construction of Shame, Recognition, and Creativity in an Analytic Process.” I was immediately drawn to the multiple elements of her thesis, including (a) that contemporary psychoanalysis measures movement in treatment principally by tracking how its process is either opening up or closing down vitality; (b) that the degree to which a patient has access to his creative and imaginative process correlates to the therapist's variable and shifting receptivity to her own imagination and creativity; as such, (c) that creativity embodies experiences that are both solitary and co-constructed; and finally, (d) that a key focal point of psychoanalytic process is to take up conditions that tend to close down creativity in one or both participants, of which shame can be an especially noxious culprit. Shame, as Levine notes, is implicated in the blocking of an individual's memory, in constraining one's creativity via a chorus of critical “inner voices” and finally, in becoming the proverbial “hot potato” that both analyst and analysand toss back and forth (while trying not to be burnt too badly), the result of which is to potentially shut down the creative and vitalizing potential of both.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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