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Schwartz-Salant, N. (1991). Vision, Interpretation, and the Interactive Field. J. Anal. Psychol., 36(3):343-365.

(1991). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 36(3):343-365

Vision, Interpretation, and the Interactive Field

Nathan Schwartz-Salant, Graduate of C. G.


In a recent paper, The supposed limits of interpretation, Michael Fordham gave a critique of what he finds to be the importance of the interpretation of primitive mental states (Fordham 9). He assumes that I undervalue this procedure, while I actually only question its wide-ranging usefulness. He also examines my approach, through an example I published, as representing what he considers to be psychotherapy in distinction to analysis.

Fordham misunderstands my method which addresses processes in third areas between analyst and analysand. As I shall demonstrate relative to his own clinical examples, it is not interpretation per se which is the issue, but rather the nature of the experience that can yield a new understanding for both analyst and analysand. I am especially concerned with the ways in which Fordham's approach can work against the experience and integration of the psychotic part of the personality. This integration process is never successfully achieved through knowing about such parts, which I believe is the result of Fordham's method of interpretation. Also, his approach is limiting as it reduces the psychotic part, which often is the source of the renewal of personality from an inner deadness (Eigen 4, p. 105), to aspects of infancy, rather than recognising its essential mystery that no ‘knowledge’ of infancy will reveal. In distinction to his approach, entering into the ‘unintegration’ of third areas such as Winnicott's transitional space, or more generally Corbin's notion of the mundus imaginalis, can better achieve this integration/renewal and also reveal the same level of interpretation Fordham finds so essential. At the end of this paper I will also discuss similar issues in Covington's review (Covington 2) of my book The Borderline Personality: Vision and Healing (Schwartz-Salant 18).

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