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Boesky, D. (2015). Action and the Analyst's Responsibility: Commentary on Greenberg. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 63(1):65-83.

(2015). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 63(1):65-83

Action and the Analyst's Responsibility: Commentary on Greenberg Related Papers

Dale Boesky

The very idea of certainty is irresistibly comical.

—C. S. Peirce (1897)

I will begin my discussion with some personal comments regarding a number of points on which Greenberg and I disagree. In fact I have had the enriching chance to debate related topics with him for several decades and have come to value him, first as a colleague and then as a friend. I have gradually come to the view that these disagreements with him, which I will lay out below, are incoherent disagreements. By that I mean disagreements that can never be resolved because the disputes at issue arise from each person's basing his opinions on frames of reference that are incommensurable. Our standards for making judgments are different because we argue from different frames of reference. The confusions that arise are not theoretical but epistemological.

Greenberg writes, “It is relatively easy to say what we are trying to accomplish when we meet with patients; put in the broadest possible terms, we are hoping to help deepen their experience of themselves and of the worlds in which they live” (pp. 15-16). Had he said that we wished to help our patients deepen their experience of themselves and of their own unconscious mind I could say I agree with him. The wish to help people deepen their experience of the world they inhabit can also describe the wish of a parent on the eve of sending a child off to college. Greenberg is well aware of such an objection, but his epistemic convictions direct him elsewhere.

My preference for the inclusion of expanding awareness of the unconscious mind might be read by some as a call for the hegemony of one theoretical model.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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