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Rucker, N. (1994). Exploratory Thoughts on Wisdom, Intimacy, and Analytic Relatedness. Am. J. Psychoanal., 54(1):77-85.

(1994). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 54(1):77-85

Exploratory Thoughts on Wisdom, Intimacy, and Analytic Relatedness

Naomi Rucker, Ph.D.

Introspection and understanding in the context of human relatedness is perhaps more integral to psychoanalysis than to any other professional endeavor. These facets of analytic work offer analysts a special advantage. Analysts are in a choice position to know intimately a wide variety of people and to be exposed to a broad range of human experiences. Many of our patients may occasion the opportunity for us to understand more fully and to experience vicariously some of the vicissitudes in living that we may not encounter in our own personal lives.

The confluent paths of our personal and professional maturation as analysts present unusual opportunities for us to share and experience our psychic selves and the psychological lives of others. These circumstances readily accord the potential for wisdom and enhanced empathy to unfold. If we are emotionally willing and psychologically capable, the assimilation of our relationships with patients and of their life journeys will make us wiser than might maturation alone. It is through our intimate connections with ourselves and with patients that analysts can develop a compassionate awareness of others and of the human conditions of living. These, combined with intellectual knowledge, are the ingredients for wisdom.

However, if one adheres to a traditional psychoanalytic stance, there is little room for the analyst's life experience or personal wisdom. Even within a more contemporary approach, the dangers of giving advice and of working within one's frame of reference, rather than the patient's subjective experience, impede the freedom to use wisdom in psychoanalysis. Ironically, the wisdom that analytic work both nurtures and solicits too often is segregated from the analytic arena. Psychoanalytic theorists virtually have ignored the value of wisdom to analytic work.

This paper offers an exploratory discussion of the correspondence between wisdom, intimacy, and the analytic bond and addresses the roles of wisdom and intimacy in analytic process and theory.

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