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Robbins, M. (1994). Wisdom and Analytic Relatedness: To the Editor:. Am. J. Psychoanal., 54(4):369-370.

(1994). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 54(4):369-370


Wisdom and Analytic Relatedness: To the Editor:

Michael Robbins, M.D.

I found the article Exploratory Thoughts on Wisdom, Intimacy, and Analytic Relatedness by Naomi Rucker in the March 1994 issue [Amer. J. Psychoanal. 54(1):77-85] very unsettling. The author argues that the therapeutic action of psychoanalysis is integrally related to the success of the analyst's active effort to establish an intimacy with her patient in which she may impart some of her presumed life wisdom. This intimacy is defined, in part, as “emotional reciprocity … the sharing of one's inner self, feelings of attachment” (p. 81). This sounds to me very similar to what would transpire were the analyst to attempt to form an extra-analytic friendship with her patient, except that the author subsequently states, “I do not advocate anything as simplistic or specific as self-disclosure, physical involvement with patients, or the like.” Unfortunately, after arousing such doubts and confusions, the author never clarifies exactly what it is she does mean. My most optimistic interpretation of these ideas is that the author is simply reiterating what good analysts have always known and practiced (current stereotypes about the cold, neutral, anonymous analyst notwithstanding), namely that a successful analysis depends on the analyst's capacity to experience a caring involvement with her patient and to work through the barriers within the patient to perceiving this caring.

Dr. Rucker further disquiets me, however, when she goes on to state that transference and countertransference are pathological products of false restraint, which arise only in analyses that lack the quality of intimacy she advocates.

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