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Gill, M.M. (1989). Comments and Criticisms. Contemp. Psychoanal., 25:159-160.

(1989). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 25:159-160

Comments and Criticisms

Merton M. Gill, M.D.

To the Editor:

I AM RESPONDING TO L. JOSEPHS' ARTICLE WHICH appeared in this Journal recently. I believe it deals with an important topic. I disagree with it in some major respects because Josephs especially singles me out as guilty of "archaeological listening" with regard to formal regression, although he applauds my "empathic listening" with regard to temporal regression.

At first blush Josephs seems to be on the side of the angels. He wants the analyst to respect the patient's experience and he decries the analyst who narcissistically and authoritarianly proclaims himself the arbiter of reality. Who could disagree with that?

But a major flaw in his argument is that he is attempting to convert a continuum into a dichotomy. He comes close to recognizing that himself when he says that "… although interventions which serve to reflect, clarify, and crystallize can also distort … there is less room for misunderstanding …" (emphasis added, p. 289). So he does recogize that interpreting is acceptable, but that some interpretations are better than others because they do not depart too far from the patient's experience.

Furthermore Josephs is not above setting up a straw man when dealing with what he calls archaeological listening.

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