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Goldberg, A. (2015). Arnold Goldberg Responds. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 63(1):NP28.

(2015). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 63(1):NP28

Arnold Goldberg Responds

Arnold Goldberg

I appreciate the letter of the reader who took exception to my paper on understanding. I knew Merton Gill, and I remember congratulating him on the publication of Analysis of Transference (Gill 1983), a book containing and elaborating the 1979 paper in which he revised his earlier position. I regret both his change of mind and my negligence in not making note of it at the time.

There are two reasons for psychoanalysis to establish itself as a hermeneutic science. The first is that of recognizing and acknowledging that Kleinian and Kohutian and Lacanian interpretations are able to differ without one being right or wrong. We must abandon our search for “facts” and “truth.” The second is that, as a friend of mine says, psychotherapy is not “psychoanalysis lite.” Going for runs with patients, hugging them, using hard-and-fast rules for missed hours are all actions that delay or entirely avoid interpretation—that is, determining what these activities “mean.” I am grateful to the editors of JAPA for allowing the pursuit of a debate as to just what sort of science psychoanalysis is, and whether it can be distinguished from the myriad of actions that go into psychotherapy. The writer of the letter seems to suggest that he does know the difference between psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic psychotherapy. Alas, most of us are still struggling with that distinction (see, e.g., Cohler and Galatzer-Levy 2007). None of this is meant to denigrate psychotherapy; rather, it is meant to clarify its scientific status. Let the conversation begin.


Cohler, B., & Galatzer-Levy, R. (2007). What kind of science is psychoanalysis? Psychoanalytic Inquiry 27:547-582. [→]

Gill, M.M. (1983). Analysis of Transference: Vol. 1. Theory and Technique. New York: International Universities Press.

Arnold Goldberg

122 South Michigan Avenue

Chicago, IL 60603


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