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Hanly, C. (1998). Reflections on the Analyst's Self-Disclosure. Psychoanal. Inq., 18(4):550-565.

(1998). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 18(4):550-565

Reflections on the Analyst's Self-Disclosure

Charles Hanly, Ph.D.

It is in my view that the question as to whether or not the analyst should make disclosures about himself/herself to patients in analysis cannot be answered in principle. It can only be answered in practice in relation to the conflicts and needs of individual patients and the particular circumstances and dynamics of their analyses at any time. However, there are certain general issues that bear upon this question, some of which I would like to consider before examining clinical instances. These arguments will also give the reader an impression of the theoretical orientation that informs the clinical discussion.

The simile (Freud, 1912) that likens the mind of the analyst to a mirror, leaving the analyst opaque in order to reflect the patient, implies a technical injunction to keep traces of the analyst's life and personality out of the communications to the patient and even to remove them from the analyst's evenly suspended attention to the patient. This injunction reminds us that it is the first task of the analyst to facilitate and follow the free associations of the patient (Kris, 1982). However, the simile and its technical implication can be exaggerated beyond their authentic meaning and technical use by a slavish and unthinking orthodoxy or by an iconoclastic rebellion against the exaggeration.

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