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Orange, D.M. (1992). Perspectival Realism and Social Constructivism: Commentary on Irwin Hoffman's “Discussion: Toward a Social-Constructivist View of the Psychoanalytic Situation”. Psychoanal. Dial., 2(4):561-565.

(1992). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 2(4):561-565

Perspectival Realism and Social Constructivism: Commentary on Irwin Hoffman's “Discussion: Toward a Social-Constructivist View of the Psychoanalytic Situation” Related Papers

Donna M. Orange, Ph.D.

In the inaugural issue of Psychoanalytic Dialogues (1991), devoted to a symposium on reality and the analytic relationship, Irwin Hoffman discusses the contributions of Modell, Aron, and Greenberg and suggests that each is in transition toward a new paradigm he is calling social constructivism. Not simply a relational model, according to Hoffman, social constructivism does more than acknowledge or highlight the patient's experience of the analyst:

A different step is required, one that has to do specifically with the kind of knowledge that the participants are thought to have of themselves and of each other. The paradigm changes, in my view, only when the idea of the analyst's personal involvement is wedded to a constructivist or perspectivist epistemiological position [p. 77]. Considering my fundamental agreement with Hoffman's concerns, my difference with his formulation here may seem a quibble: constructivism and perspectivism are not equivalent epistemologies. They are not conceptually equivalent, and, a not irrelevant matter, they are not pragmatically equivalent. The pragmatic differences will, of course, in psychoanalysis show up as clinical differences.

The appeal of social constructivism is twofold.

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