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Rosbrow, T. (2017). Contexts, Polarities, and Pluralism. Discussion of Slochower’s “Going Too Far: Relational Heroines and Relational Excess”. Psychoanal. Dial., 27(3):313-319.

(2017). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 27(3):313-319

Contexts, Polarities, and Pluralism. Discussion of Slochower’s “Going Too Far: Relational Heroines and Relational Excess”

Thomas Rosbrow, Ph.D.

In her searching paper “Going Too Far: Relational Heroines and Relational Excess,” (this issue) Slochower finds the potential for excess as inherent in any psychoanalytic theory. I argue that context is key in understanding this phenomenon within relational psychoanalysis; what she describes may not be the case for other theories. The beginnings of relational theory as a movement, generational and radical, could lead to therapeutic overconfidence or certainty around countertransference insights and disclosures. Slochower sees an abundance of certainty in this stance, as well as pressure for premature mutuality. As a complement or balance to this intense mode of interpersonal engagement, Slochower elaborates her own work on holding, wherein the analyst “brackets” her experience and respects the patient’s need for privacy and nonimpingement. Uncertainty is an affirmative stance in letting the patient’s inner life come into being. There are a number of polarities in Slochower’s paper—between mutuality and privacy, certainty and uncertainty, and in the origin story of relational psychoanalysis between relational and classical theories. I argue that pluralism offers a path forward from polarities to a rich complex world of multiple possibilities and recognition of different minds and theories.

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