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Gill, M.M. (1994). Comments on "Neutrality, Interpretation, and Therapeutic Intent". J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 42:681-684.

(1994). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 42:681-684

Comments on "Neutrality, Interpretation, and Therapeutic Intent"

Merton M. Gill, M.D.

January 21, 1993

Because Drs. Levy and Inderbitzin have taken no account of my discussion of their paper "Neutrality, Interpretation, and Therapeutic Intent" (J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 40:989–1012) when it was presented, I am moved to send a precis of my discussion as a letter to the Editor.

I shall divide my remarks into three parts: (1) Why I think they are wrong, (2) the points they themselves make which refute their own thesis and should form the basis for (3) a very different definition of neutrality.

1. They base their views on a one-person psychology, whereas the psychoanalytic situation must be understood in terms of both a one-person and a two-person psychology. They are in fact continuing to maintain a view of the analyst as a mirror. The appropriate critique of the mirror analogy, Hoffman (1983) writes, is a radical one which holds that as an inherent part of the psychoanalytic situation, analysand and analyst continuously and significantly influence each other. In contrast, the ideal analyst according to the conservative critique is usually considered to be one who influences the patient only by correct interpretations and by a helpful humane attitude.

2. The points they themselves make which refute their own thesis and form the basis for the definition of neutrality I shall propose:

a. They recognize implicitly that the analytic situation is a mutually interactive one. They quote Poland (1986) approvingly when he says, "Analysts' words have the effect of powerful action that goes far beyond the intended explicit insight communicated by an interpretation." They write that … "therapeutic ambition is only one of the many driving motives in the analyst."

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