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Cooper, S.H. (1993). Interpretive Fallibility and the Psychoanalytic Dialogue. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 41:95-126.

(1993). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 41:95-126

Interpretive Fallibility and the Psychoanalytic Dialogue

Steven H. Cooper, Ph.D.


The concept of the analyst's interpretive fallibility is utilized to understand and organize the ways in which contemporary psychoanalytic theory has expanded on Freud's notions regarding the hypothetical nature of interpretation. This expansion involves a particular axis regarding the analyst's stance, an axis that cuts across theoretical scaffolding to include the analyst's view of symmetry and asymmetry in the analytic setting and the epistemological positions and preferences accorded to analyst and analysand. The ways in which the analyst constructs and imposes meaning are examined more specifically in the theories of Roy Schafer and Ernest S. Wolf. The benefits and problems of constructivism in analytic stance are evaluated and illustrated through a case example. Finally, the notion of psychoanalytic neurality is reconsidered with regard to a series of tensions between the construction and foreclosure of meaning in the analytic situation.

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