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Aron, L. (2006). Analytic Impasse and the Third: Clinical implications of intersubjectivity theory. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 87(2):349-368.

(2006). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 87(2):349-368

Analytic Impasse and the Third: Clinical implications of intersubjectivity theory

Lewis Aron

The author examines the notion of the third within contemporary intersubjectivity theory. He utilizes a variety of metaphors (the triangle, the seesaw, strange attractors, and the compass) in an effort to explain this often misunderstood concept in a clear and readily usable manner. An argument is made to the effect that intersubjectivity theory has direct implications for clinical practice, and that the notion of the third is particularly useful in understanding what happens in and in resolving clinical impasses and stalemates. Specifically, the author suggests that certain forms of self-disclosure are best understood as attempts to create a third point of reference, thus opening up psychic space for self-reflection and mentalization. He provides a clinical case as well as a number of briefer vignettes to illustrate the theoretical concepts and to suggest specific modifications of the psychoanalyst's stance that give the patient greater access to the inner workings of the analyst's mind. This introduces a third that facilitates the gradual transformation from relations of complementarity to relations of mutuality.

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