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Almond, R. (2003). The Holding Function of Theory. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 51(1):131-153.

(2003). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 51(1):131-153

The Holding Function of Theory

Richard Almond

As multiple theoretical models contend on the American analytic scene, the holding function of theory emerges as a unifying theme. In addition to supplying an intellectual superstructure for the working analyst, theory provides a psychological presence—a sense of conviction, affective stability, reassurance, and self-esteem— that makes effective analytic work possible from the analyst's side. Ideological passions and differences arise from the vital need for the holding function in an intense and inchoate engagement like psychoanalysis. To show how adherents of different models use theory in practice, three clinical cases are reviewed, one from Betty Joseph, one from Lewis Aron, and one from the author. The last example reconstructs the analyst's subjective experience of treatment both in the selected hours and in terms of the analyst's preconscious use of theory.

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