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Ullman, C. (2011). Response to Commentaries. Psychoanal. Perspect., 8(2):230-237.

(2011). Psychoanalytic Perspectives, 8(2):230-237

Response to Commentaries Related Papers

Chana Ullman, Ph.D.

It is a pleasure and a challenge to respond to the three discussions of my paper. It is a pleasure because the ideas expressed in the discussions offer important elaborations of my arguments, helping me to better understand and articulate my own position. It is, however, also a great challenge to respond to the three discussions, which are obviously divided, without reproducing the split between the “good guys,” who share my position, and the “bad guys,” who do not. Inevitably, it is precisely this dilemma (or at least an important version of this dilemma) that my paper addresses and that we constantly face as psychoanalysts working in the political and cultural context that I describe. I will first comment on Neil Altman's and Jessica Benjamin's contributions to the arguments I present, and then try to find a “third” position from which to reflect on Govrin's rebuttal of my paper.

The works of Altman and Benjamin have been an inspiration to my work and have greatly influenced my own thinking, including the thinking presented here. It is therefore not surprising that I find little to disagree with and much to appreciate in their discussions.

Neil Altman continues in the path that he himself has opened in contemporary psychoanalysis, reflecting psychoanalytically on the world inside and outside the consulting room and enabling a psychoanalytic position that is mindful of the inextricable ties among history, politics, and character, and the ways they enter transference and countertransference. I will respond here to two of the important claims he makes. The first is the costs of dehumanization as a currency paid by those who oppress others; the other is the way he suggests we face the dilemma of taking a public stance as psychoanalysts.

Altman reminds us that psychoanalysis is often the treatment of privileged sectors of society who live insulated from the realities of suffering.

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