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Baker, R. (2000). Finding the Neutral Position: Patient and Analyst Perspectives. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 48(1):129-153.

(2000). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 48(1):129-153

Finding the Neutral Position: Patient and Analyst Perspectives

Ronald Baker

In light of current debates between classical and intersubjective schools of psychoanalysis, the challenge posed by the latter to such basic concepts as the analyst's neutrality, anonymity, and abstinence is taken up. It is maintained that the term neutral position is today more germane and meaningful than the term neutrality, which frequently has been taken to prescribe the analyst's posture. It is proposed that for each patient the neutral position is uniquely sited and that it is incumbent on the analyst to find its location. The neutral position is defined within the context of the interaction between analyst and patient. The concept is therefore compatible with—indeed it is essential to—an intersubjective or relational orientation. The manifold reasons, conscious and unconscious, why the analyst is vulnerable to leaving the neutral position are considered. The patient's reaction to the analyst who has left the neutral position and the analyst's clinical use of this reaction are discussed.

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