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Wilner, W. (1975). The Nature of Intimacy. Contemp. Psychoanal., 11:206-226.

(1975). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 11:206-226

The Nature of Intimacy

Warren Wilner, Ph.D.

THE NUMEROUS AND DIVERGENT OPINIONS existing as to what constitutes intimacy and its relationship to the psychoanalytic process clearly demonstrates the need for a psychoanalytically meaningful formulation relevant to different metapsychological perspectives.

An attempt will be made, in this paper, to develop such a formulation based on what is etymologically most essential to the dictionary definition of the term. The self-contradictions among the dictionary meanings of intimacy, when viewed from a psychoanalytic perspective, underscore the need for redefinition, as well as for the inclusion of basic etymological referents upon which any redefinition is to be based. To depart in substance from these basic meanings would refer to something other than intimacy. This would necessitate choosing a different, more suitable word for what we are describing, or even a neologism. The consequences of such a departure would be either to eliminate intimacy from the vocabulary of psychoanalysis or to imply that psychoanalysis has the "true" vision of intimacy (and all others are less true). Yet, to introduce other or newly created terms to refer to what has been commonly meant by intimacy would only result in a schism between psychoanalytic theory and the history of human knowledge and experience, for which intimacy has long been a key human referent.

Psychoanalysis, as theory, is distinguished from other theories of psychotherapy by its active concern with unconscious experience (Wolstein, 1971). It would follow, therefore, that any psychoanalytically oriented definition of intimacy must take into account the presence of unconscious experience.

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