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Hewison, D. (2002). Internet Discussion Forum Summary. J. Anal. Psychol., 47(3):526-527.

(2002). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 47(3):526-527

Internet Discussion Forum Summary

Summarized by David Hewison

‘A relational self psychological perspective’ by James L. Fosshage J. Anal. Psychol., 2002, 47, 1, 167-82

James Fosshage's paper was one of several responses to a questionnaire given to psychoanalysts about details of the analytic encounter, clarifying their views on certain key issues, such as what constitutes change, what is the role of the analyst, and whether the concept of the self has any place in their thinking. Fosshage is a relational self psychologist who had substantial experience of Jungian thinking and practice prior to training as a psychoanalyst. His response included his thoughts about this as well as clinical examples to expand on his answers.

The Discussion Forum had responses from Italy, the US and Sweden. Though these responses were available on the Discussion Forum web page a technical glitch prevented them from being fully distributed by email; this may have led to fewer responses than the paper would otherwise have received.

Massimo Giannoni, from Rome, welcomed Fosshage's paper in the Journal for several reasons. Giannoni feels that his own thinking is moving towards the area of self psychology and relational psychoanalysis, and the paper helped him to clarify some theoretical difficulties. More than this, he felt that the paper allowed Jungians to address the phenomenon of the ‘relational shift’ in psychoanalysis, in a way that avoided a reliance on drive theory that underlies Kleinian theory, for example.

Reid Anderson, from Hampton, Virginia, focused on the importance of the relational focus in Fosshage's paper as opposed to the centrality of ‘intrapsychic conflict’ as found in both classical psychoanalysis and Jungian thought. He noted that the way Fosshage responded to his analysand, in both the clinical examples, was not that which might have been expected from a classical analyst:

Rather than explore why she must tell herself and her analyst, right now, that she ‘won't fight for (him)’, or further explore the tension between and meanings of ‘to fight’ or ‘not to fight’, or the struggles she feels between herself, the analyst, and other parties, or how prior interpretations, understanding or other interventions have or have not helped, etc.,

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