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Colombo, D. (2018). “Blowing Up” the Frame: Revisiting Arlow's “Fantasy, Memory, and Reality Testing”. Psychoanal Q., 87(1):149-158.

(2018). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 87(1):149-158

“Blowing Up” the Frame: Revisiting Arlow's “Fantasy, Memory, and Reality Testing”

Daria Colombo

This paper means a great deal to us, as a field and as individuals. It is almost, as Arlow writes in it of a patient's fantasies, part of our field's “mythological past” (1969, p. 38). Indeed, Abend wrote of Arlow in 2006: “He happens to be one of the shining stars in my own pantheon of psychoanalytic heroes, going back to my first encounter with him” (p. 376).

Any revisiting, indeed, requires an original encounter; I first read this paper in analytic training and have returned to it multiple times since, each time finding something different in a paper that appears to expand in its implications and prescience with each rereading. Inevitably, every encounter involves an altered reader, who is visiting for new reasons and finding different aspects of the text compelling; like Heraclitus, one must acknowledge the impossibility of stepping twice into the same river or, to echo Arlow himself on fantasy, of twice tapping the same stream.

Revisiting this classic paper of ego psychology requires the reader to reconsider his or her relationship to the field and to its heroes, to recall what ego psychology was in Arlow's time and to ask what it is today—to think about how we practice in an increasingly eclectic but also divided psychoanalytic world.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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