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Williams, P. (1997). Internet Site Discussion: ‘A Reconsideration Of Objectivity In The Analyst’ By Glen O. Gabbard. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 78:847-850.

(1997). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 78:847-850

Internet Site Discussion: ‘A Reconsideration Of Objectivity In The Analyst’ By Glen O. Gabbard

Paul Williams

The third journal paper to be made available for downloading and discussion from the IJPA Home Page (address http:/ was Glen Gabbard's assessment of the degree to which the psychoanalyst is capable of maintaining objectivity (or not, as is argued by social constructivists, intersubjectivists and perspectivists). Gabbard begins by surveying the contemporary field and cites the burgeoning literature (generated by a range of disciplines of a post-modern hue) that calls into question the existence of the concept of objectivity. This is a vast subject (as was soon apparent from the discussion) and Gabbard concentrates on recent theoretical derivatives from within psychoanalysis, judiciously leaving the wider philosophical debate. The subsequent, extensive discussion addressed many of the underlying philosophical implications, and this interested some contributors and irritated others. This raises an important point: it is evident that the exposition of the philosophical premises which underpin psychoanalysis is needed, not least from the responses to Gabbard's paper. However, avoidance of specialisation and intellectualisation, while maintaining a link with the clinical experience, is not easy in this area, and is perhaps even impossible to achieve. The result is that many readers are soon deterred. Would it be of interest to IJPA readers to have a distinct forum within the Home Page and/or Journal (a suggestion made at the end of this review) in which such issues could be given the attention they deserve?

Within the disjointed theoretical and technical debates that take place around the relative significance of drives, object-search, conflicts, deficits, levels of fixation and one-person or two-person psychologies, Gabbard regards the ‘objective’ versus ‘subjective’ controversy as exerting fundamental influence on contemporary psychoanalytic practice.

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