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Almond, R. (2015). Slicing the Psychoanalytic Pie: Or, Shall We Bake a New One? Commentary on Greenberg. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 63(1):33-46.

(2015). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 63(1):33-46

Slicing the Psychoanalytic Pie: Or, Shall We Bake a New One? Commentary on Greenberg Related Papers

Richard Almond

Could it be that analysts approach analysands as sets of stories to be retold in terms of the storylines provided by preferred analytic theories? These unsettling questions do not go away just because analysts repress or disavow them.

—Roy Schafer (1992, p. 171)

Jay Greenberg's “Therapeutic Action and the Analyst's Responsibility” uses the idea of “fictions” or “controlling fictions” to develop a number of significant points in the ongoing discussion of psychoanalytic pluralism: What is the epistemological status of our theoretical models? Greenberg's answer: they are powerful fictions, shared among communities of believers, controlling our thought and action. These fictions contend as equals in the marketplace of ideas. We value our fictions because they tell us how to act with patients—though there is always a tension between our preferred fiction and the immediate press of an actual patient. Ultimately, psychoanalytic experience is so dense that we cannot hope to know which is best, more “right,” among contending fictions. I will look at Greenberg's theses in the context of our current literature and my experience. My discussion will demonstrate the heuristic value of Greenberg's paper, though I have strong disagreements regarding his conclusions, and with his view of the state of psychoanalytic knowledge.

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