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Coburn, W. (2017). The Principle of Necessity, and the Necessity of Principle: Commentary on Steven Stern’s Paper “Holistic Thinking and Therapeutic Action: Building on Louis Sander’s Contribution”. Psychoanal. Dial., 27(1):104-110.

(2017). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 27(1):104-110

The Principle of Necessity, and the Necessity of Principle: Commentary on Steven Stern’s Paper “Holistic Thinking and Therapeutic Action: Building on Louis Sander’s Contribution”

William J. Coburn, Ph.D., Psy.D.

Steven Stern’s principle of necessity underscores the importance of being open to the emergence of something new, something therapeutically vital and alive to both patient and therapist, requiring a unique alertness to the unbidden, the previously not-thought-about, the on-the-edges-of-our-experience type impressions in the course of living through the otherwise familiar and the usual. This commentary addresses Stern’s principle of necessity and, equally so, the continuing necessity of principle in analytic work—a kind of ongoing sensibility that argues for placing aside theoretical knowledge and intervention categories in favor of striving to be open to the emergence of the unusual and the unexpected, to what ultimately proves therapeutic. We strive to work at and tolerate suspending our preconceptions, our theories, and our assumptions about how things should unfold in the clinical setting—what is referred to as analytic courage.

[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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