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Greenberg, J. (2002). Psychoanalytic Goals, Therapeutic Action, and The Analyst's Tension. Psychoanal Q., 71(4):651-678.

(2002). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 71(4):651-678

Psychoanalytic Goals, Therapeutic Action, and The Analyst's Tension

Jay Greenberg, Ph.D.

The author draws a distinction between the goals of psychoanalysis and its therapeutic action. Goals are consciously (or at least preconsciously) held by the analyst, and can be clearly articulated. Ideas about the mechanism of therapeutic action, in contrast, are hypothetical constructs, and cannot be completely spelled out. This is bound to leave analysts in a state of tension; we are certain about what we are trying to do, but what we are actually accomplishing is elusive. This tension may be optimal for the analyst, because attention must be paid simultaneously to the idiosyncratic relationship in the dyad and to the broader purposes of the analytic engagement.

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