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Rosenthal, R. (2013). The More Things Stay the Same, the More They Change: Adoption Roundtable Reflections. Psychoanal. Perspect., 10(1):125-130.

(2013). Psychoanalytic Perspectives, 10(1):125-130

The More Things Stay the Same, the More They Change: Adoption Roundtable Reflections

Roger Rosenthal, MSW

In reversing the order of the colloquial phrase “The more things change, the more they stay the same” for the title of this paper, I hope to better capture some critical dimensions of my experience of the Psychoanalytic Perspectives roundtable discussion on adoption. One dimension of my experience was very familiar, bringing back in seemingly unadulterated form many earlier senses of self in relation to adoption. The other dimension of my experience felt new and (surprisingly) different. The question I would like to explore here is what to make of the experience of holding two opposing and contradictory states simultaneously. I would then like to consider what this might suggest for a more general understanding of the ways in which psychological change occurs.

To begin, one might note a tension between disjunctive aspects of self-experience: familiarity and newness. Yet my phenomenological sense was not of tension but of a curious simultaneity of opposing states of mind. While one might, alternatively, refer to this state of affairs as paradoxical, I believe the notion of antinomy offers a slightly different emphasis that is especially clarifying in this instance. The Merriam-Webster dictionary (2012) defines antinomy as “a contradiction between two apparently equally valid principles or between inferences correctly drawn from such principles.” The two experiences from which I infer my state of mind were, on one hand, of having the exact same sense of shame, uncertainty, defensiveness, and anger I have felt ever since I could remember, along with an unexpected sense that I was different now.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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