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Greenberg, J. (1992). Commentary on Sampson's “The Role of ‘Real’ Experience in Psychopathology and Treatment”. Psychoanal. Dial., 2(4):529-537.

(1992). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 2(4):529-537

Commentary on Sampson's “The Role of ‘Real’ Experience in Psychopathology and Treatment” Related Papers

Jay Greenberg, Ph.D.

It is a special pleasure to discuss Harold Sampson's paper because I have long admired his work. My admiration is based on many things, not the least of which is my appreciation for his interest in, and openness to, psychoanalytic ideas. I also believe that through his work with the Mt. Zion Psychotherapy Research Group he has given us a vision of the psychoanalytic process that keeps faith with, but also extends, our clinicians' view of what goes on when we do psychoanalytic work.

First let me say a few words about the theory Sampson has described so clearly in his paper. It is a perspective that fits comfortably within the relational model of psychoanalysis. Like each of the theories operating within the relational model, it begins with the assumption that all human experience originates in the interpersonal exchange. This is true genetically; early relationships lay down patterns that shape everything that comes later. It is also true throughout life, in the sense that any experience—psychoanalytic transferences are, of course, a particularly relevant case in point—is significantly determined by social reality. Everything that we might consider “intrapsychic,” including both motivation and regulation, arises, according to the premises of the relational model, as a transformation of early experience with other people.

The key concept in Sampson's particular relational approach is the conscious and especially the unconscious “belief” about reality.

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