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Fosshage, J.L. (2003). Some Reflections on “What is a Psychoanalytic Relationship?” and “How Does it Effectuate Change?”. Psychoanal. Perspect., 1(1):45-53.

(2003). Psychoanalytic Perspectives, 1(1):45-53

Some Reflections on “What is a Psychoanalytic Relationship?” and “How Does it Effectuate Change?”

James L. Fosshage, Ph.D.

Revolutionary changes have been occurring within psychoanalysis over the past three decades, requiring us to readdress the issues of “What is a psychoanalytic relationship?” and “How does it effectuate change?” The purpose of this paper is to share some reflections on these two issues.

Emblematic of the changes occurring in psychoanalysis is the portrayal of conflict between analyst and analysand in the movie Analyze This. Billy Crystal, playing a respected psychoanalyst, attempts to begin the analysis of Robert De Niro. as a Mob Boss, in a technically proper and orderly fashion. According to the rules of his trade, Billy Crystal had learned that his job is to get his patient to associate freely, to objectively interpret De Niro's problems, and to be drawn into the human interaction as little as possible. As the Mob Boss, De Niro wants help, straight talk, contact, and, as it evolves, a protective, caring relationship. With their disparate agendas, De Niro and Crystal are heading for conflict from the first moments of their first encounter. Crystal is conducting a session with a married couple when De Niro's burly bodyguard bursts in, demanding that Crystal see his boss, now! Crystal tries to maintain some decorum, but within minutes finds his couple hurriedly exiting and himself, somewhat bewildered, facing, of course, the Mob Boss. The comic tension builds. De Niro pushes and stretches his analyst every step of the way, forcing Crystal to come out from behind his “objective” screen and to be the person he needs him to be. Crystal nervously, but with determination, tries to hold on to a semblance of his analytic stance.

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