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Wolstein, B. (1975). Comments and Criticisms. Contemp. Psychoanal., 11:259-262.

(1975). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 11:259-262

Comments and Criticisms

Benjamin Wolstein, Ph.D.

To the Editors:

I would like to make some comments on the source and meaning of authority in psychoanalytic therapy.

The panel on transference and countertransference held at the scientific meeting of the William Alanson White Psychoanalytic Society, November 14, 1973, was published in a recent issue of This Journal (10: 347–371, 1974), and as is usual for panel publications, the papers were not accompanied by the open discussion that took place after their presentations.

For the record, it may therefore be appropriate to acquaint readers of the papers with some remarks I made afterward about the place of authority in ongoing psychoanalytic therapy, and for this purpose here (since the psychoanalyst's authority was not the theme of the panel discussion) also include some comments on the conventions of authoritarianism associated with the psychoanalytic procedures of those who do not make a firm distinction between theory of therapeutic inquiry and theory of human nature, or, as I referred to it that evening, between psychoanalytic psychology and psychoanalytic metapsychology.

When considering the meaning of the psychoanalyst's authority in his therapeutic practice, it is customary to look for its sources in the environing culture of beliefs and values in which he seeks to state the rationale for his views. Thus, in this style of thinking, since it may reasonably be argued that psychoanalysts are now living through "egalitarian times, " it may be inferred that they will fail to articulate the true and full meaning of authority, with the unfortunate result, as Dr. Witenberg put it, that "the eternal, idiosyncratic view of authority held by all people is swept under the rug" (This Journal, 10: 371, 1974).

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