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Wolf, N.H. (2013). Beyond Pluralism: Searching for a Theory of Unconscious Phantasy. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 94(6):1172-1175.

(2013). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 94(6):1172-1175

Beyond Pluralism: Searching for a Theory of Unconscious Phantasy

Nancy H. Wolf

The panel presentation ‘Beyond Pluralism: Searching for a Theory of Unconscious Phantasy’ given at The IPA Congress in Prague is part of an initiative on conceptual integration begun by Charles Hanley in 2009. This initiative is an attempt to discern convergences in psychoanalytic concepts embedded in different theories and achieve some integration. Members of this Panel initially studied the concept of enactments/countertransference enactment, and their findings are published in IJP 94, 2013.

Werner Bohleber, Chair, noted the complexity of the task: different psychoanalytic schools have fundamentally different philosophies and assumptions underlying various concepts, and explicit descriptions of terms do not necessarily reveal implicit meanings. The Committee recognized integration as an ideal with neither “tribalism or geopolitical reductionism … justified.” In a very real sense this committee composed of Werner Bohleber from Germany, Samuel Zysman from Argentina, Juan Pablo Jimenez (Chile), Dominique Scarfone (Canada) and Sverre Varvin (Norway) demonstrated this position; each person addressed his category of discourse bringing his own personal and professional psychoanalytic perspective to his area of exploration.

The Panel worked from a ‘canon’ of psychoanalytic literature, choosing seminal papers representative of the different psychoanalytic schools. Papers written on unconscious phantasies by Susan Isaacs, Hanna Segal, and Ronald Britton represented the Kleinian school; papers by Sandler and Sandler, the Contemporary Freudians; papers by Jacob Arlow and Samuel Abend, American Ego Psychology; Self Psychology was represented by the Ornsteins; Philip Bromberg represented the Relational School.

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