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Williams, P. (1999). ‘Non-Interpretive Mechanisms in Psychoanalytic Therapy’ By Daniel Stern Et Al. And ‘What Is “Applied” in “Applied” Psychoanalysis?’ By Aaron H. Esman. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 80(1):197-210.

(1999). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 80(1):197-210

‘Non-Interpretive Mechanisms in Psychoanalytic Therapy’ By Daniel Stern Et Al. And ‘What Is “Applied” in “Applied” Psychoanalysis?’ By Aaron H. Esman

Paul Williams

The paper by Stern et al. was placed on the IJP Web Site on 13 October 1998: Esman's paper appeared on 20 July and remained on the Web Site until the beginning of October. Both papers and discussions are summarised in this review, beginning with Stern. His paper argues that something more than interpretation is necessary to bring about therapeutic change. It introduces the concept of ‘implicit relational knowledge’, a phenomenon that is distinct from the symbolic domain. This form of knowledge acts upon relationships, creating change, and alters an individual's ways of being with others, notably in the analytic relationship. Its potential for therapeutic action is considerable and is advocated. Stern's paper should be read in full if its argument is to be appreciated.

Stern begins by asking how psychoanalytic therapies create change: the idea of ‘something more’ than interpretation acting to create change has a long history. Through the application of a developmental perspective Stern believes this ‘something more’ can be identified. In analytic treatment there are two mutative agents, Stern suggests: interpretations and ‘moments of meeting’. The former rearrange the intrapsychic landscape via insight; the latter generate changes in the quality of relating through authentic person-to-person encounters and experiences. Linked to these are two further domains: the declarative, conscious, verbal domain and the implicit procedural or relational domain.

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