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Tip: To review the glossary of psychoanalytic concepts…

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Prior to searching for a specific psychoanalytic concept, you may first want to review PEP Consolidated Psychoanalytic Glossary edited by Levinson. You can access it directly by clicking here.

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Stern, D.B. (1992). Commentary on Constructivism in Clinical Psychoanalysis. Psychoanal. Dial., 2(3):331-363.

(1992). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 2(3):331-363

Commentary on Constructivism in Clinical Psychoanalysis Related Papers

Donnel B. Stern, Ph.D.

I share with Fourcher, Hoffman, and Tansey the conviction that constructivism, or what Hoffman refers to as “social constructivism,” offers solutions to many problems in psychoanalytic theory and practice and that this way of viewing things will therefore be increasingly important to our field in the future (Feffer, 1982; Hoffman, 1983, 1987, 1990, 1991a; Protter, 1985, 1988; Stern, 1983, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1991). Let me begin by offering a very broad definition of constructivism:

Any so-called reality is—in the most immediate and concrete sense—the construction of those who believe they have discovered and investigated it. In other words, what is found is an invention whose inventor is unaware of his act of invention, who considers it something that exists independently of him; the invention then becomes the basis of his world view and actions [Watzlawick, 1984p. 10].

From this perspective, truth is a matter of creation or construction, not the slow accretion of “objective” data that teeter on the edge of change and then tumble into new understanding of their own weight. In fact, in a constructivist world, it is at least as accurate to claim the reverse: that new data are examined because a “new truth” (Issacharoff and Hunt, 1978; Tenzer, 1985) reveals the possibility of their existence or relevance.

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