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Levenson, E. (1985). Chapter 4: The Interpersonal (Sullivanian) Model. Models of the Mind: Their Relationships to Clinical Work, 49-67.

Levenson, E. (1985). Chapter 4: The Interpersonal (Sullivanian) Model. Models of the Mind: Their Relationships to Clinical Work , 49-67

Chapter 4: The Interpersonal (Sullivanian) Model Book Information Previous Up Next

Edgar Levenson, M.D.

The French poet, Paul Valéry (1956), said that the artist of modern sensibility must spend his time trying to see what is visible, and, more important, trying not to see what is invisible. Philosophers, he said (and he might well have added, psychoanalysts) pay a high price for striving to achieve the opposite. To the extent that one can encompass an entire psychoanalytic posture within a brief presentation, this might be said to be the essence of interpersonal psychoanalysis. The data of psychoanalysis is, first and foremost, what can be observed: the patient in his reported interactions with others, past and present; and the patient's interactions with the therapist as they can be directly observed in the therapy relationship. Dreams, fantasies, free associations, slips are in no sense disregarded, but they are seen as efforts the patient is making, through imagery and imagination, to grapple with and comprehend experience. However distorted or caricatured it might appear to be, fantasy is considered more the reflection of poorly comprehended real-life interpersonal experience than the emergence from the depths of solipsistic, primitive impulses.

Sullivan (1956) said that “no one has grave difficulties in living if he has a very good grasp of what is happening to him.” He felt that vital interactions between the patient and significant other people were “selectively inattended”; that is, scrupulously

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