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Strenger, C. (2002). From Yeshiva to Critical Pluralism: Reflections on the Impossible Project of Individuality. Psychoanal. Inq., 22(4):534-558.

(2002). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 22(4):534-558

From Yeshiva to Critical Pluralism: Reflections on the Impossible Project of Individuality

Carlo Strenger, Ph.D.

Psychoanalysis Deal with the Most Intimate of Matters: Love, Hate, sex, the body, self-esteem, the balance between the public and the private, yearnings and fantasies, the pain of frustration and unfulfilled wishes.

Throughout most of its history, psychoanalysis has carefully preserved the illusion that these issues can be resolved, or at least dealt with, through impersonal theory. The dominant voices of psychoanalysis. Freud, Jung, Klein, Lacan, Winnicott, Erikson, and others, all presented supposedly objective theoretical accounts of how human beings develop. The official story of psychoanalysis was that each of these dominant contributors empirically discovered some developmental aspect by focusing on his or her clinical experience each emphasizing a particular aspect of human experience. If this were so, why do different analysts “discover” different things in the same patient? Critics of psychoanalysis have argued for decades that clinical data cannot provide confirmation of developmental and etiological theories.

Intersubjectivists like Atwood and Stolorow (1993) argue that psychoanalytic theories reflect their authors' personal struggles and strains. Psychoanalysts cannot reflect themselves out of their own subjectivities.


Carlo Strenger, Ph.D. is Faculty, Department of Psychology and the Program for Psychotherapy at Tel Aviv University; Founding Member of the Tel Aviv Institute for Contemporary Psychoanalysis.

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