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Ehrenberg, D.B. (1995). The Analyst's Theorizing. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 43:1247-1251.

(1995). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 43:1247-1251

The Analyst's Theorizing

Darlene Bregman Ehrenberg

February 23, 1995

In “Critical Notes on the Psychoanalyst's Theorizing” (JAPA, 42/3) Barnaby Barratt raises some very important and provocative psychoanalytic questions. Nevertheless, his position presents some difficulties as well, and I would like to elaborate what I see these to be. I also want to clarify my own position (Ehrenberg, 1992b, 1993, 1994a, 1994b, 1994c, 1995. Note also that The Intimate Edge: Extending the Reach of Psychoanalytic Interaction, which contains most of my papers published between 1974 and 1991, was published by W. W. Norton in 1992, not by “Contemporary Psychoanalysis Publ.,” as listed in Barratt's references).

Barratt begins by stating “the central questions might be articulated as follows: When, or under what criteria, might the psychoanalyst's theorizing activity during a psychoanalytic session be considered resistive or facilitative to the psychoanalytic process itself? And how might the psychoanalyst, in the moment-to-moment of the clinical encounter, know the difference?” (p. 698). He then goes on to argue that three different approaches, which he labels the “computational,” the “engaged,” and the “cadaverized,” “foster or fixate the psychoanalyst's illusions, and are therefore resistive to the psychoanalyst's radical responsibility to interrogate free-associatively his or her own suppositions and discursive maneuvers” (p. 697).

The first question, about how we might know whether the analyst's theorizing activity during a session is resistive or facilitative to the psychoanalytic process, seems fairly straightforward and, of course, is extremely important. If we recognize our own vulnerability to unconscious influence, no matter what our theory, and if we believe in the power of countertransference and the inevitability of varying degrees of unwitting enactment and unconscious collusion, however, then the suggestion implicit in the second question, that we can actually determine if our thought process is resistive or facilitative at any given time, seems problematic.

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