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Goodman, A. (1992). Empathy and Inquiry—Integrating Empathic Mirroring in an Interpersonal Framework. Contemp. Psychoanal., 28:631-646.

(1992). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 28:631-646

Empathy and Inquiry—Integrating Empathic Mirroring in an Interpersonal Framework

Andrew Goodman, M.S.

THIS PAPER EXPLORES the process of integrating empathic mirroring within the framework of interpersonal theory. My focus will be on examining particular moments in the clinical situation in which the question arises of whether it is more effective to mirror the patient's experience or to respond in a manner that delineates the self-other aspects of the relationship. It is in the moment to moment conceptualization and clarification of such clinical choices that the practice of psychoanalysis becomes refined.

The work of Kohut has had a significant impact on psychoanalytic thinking during the past twenty years. Even analysts who strongly disagree with Kohut (as I do in many ways) often develop a position about his theories. This paper grows out of an ongoing process of my response to the clinical implications of Kohut's concept of empathic mirroring.

Perhaps the clearest example of Kohut's influence is in the area of the analyst's use of empathy. For Kohut the use of empathy was both the fundamental clinical technique for data gathering, and the organizing principle for the analytic orientation which he termed the empathic introspective mode of observation (1959). Kohut's emphasis on the analyst immersing himself in the patient's subjective experience and communicating his understanding of the patient in a reflective, non-judgmental manner has been an important clinical contribution.

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