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Cooper, P. (2002). Between Wonder and Doubt: Psychoanalysis in the Goal-Free Zone. Am. J. Psychoanal., 62(2):95-118.

(2002). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 62(2):95-118

Between Wonder and Doubt: Psychoanalysis in the Goal-Free Zone

Paul Cooper, M.S., N.C.Psy.A.

This paper examines the experiential dimensions of wonder and doubt as one way to articulate the creative and growth-promoting tensions between the medical/scientific model and the spiritual/mystical model. Both forms of experience, it is argued, function as necessary elements in a psychotherapy that integrates psychoanalysis and spiritual praxes. Fundamental differences between the medical/scientific model and the spiritual/mystical models are examined. The notion of the gap serves to illustrate these diametrically opposed, albeit compatible and necessary, points of view. The multifaceted layers of movement between Buddhism and psychoanalysis typify interacting dynamics between the two disciplines and provide a focal point for discussion. The paper then explores parallels between the Zen Buddhist notion of “Satori” as explicated in the writings of D. T. Suzuki and Wilfred Bion's notion of “O.” Theoretical aspects of the discussion provide a backdrop for exploring clinical experience regarding the relationship between acceptance and change, the clinical relevance of the Buddhist notions of “gaining idea” and “basic goodness.” The author also explores relationships between presence as actuality and ideal; knowing and not knowing; wonder and doubt. Clinical material supports the theoretical aspects of the discussion.

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