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Slochower, J. (1996). Holding and the Fate of the Analyst's Subjectivity. Psychoanal. Dial., 6(3):323-353.

(1996). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 6(3):323-353

Holding and the Fate of the Analyst's Subjectivity Related Papers

Joyce Slochower, Ph.D.

The constructivist/relational perspective has challenged the analyst's emotional superiority, her omniscience, and her relative removal from the psychoanalytic dialogue. It at first appears to be antithetical to treatment approaches that emphasize the analyst's holding functions. In this essay I examine the holding model and its resolution from a relational perspective. I propose that the current discomfort with the holding function is related to its apparent, but not necessarily real, implications. I discuss the analyst's and patient's subjectivity during periods of holding. I believe that the holding process is essential when the patient has intensely toxic reactions to “knowing” the analyst and is therefore not yet able to stand a mutual analytic experience. During holding, the patient experiences an illusion of analytic attunement. This requires that the analyst's dysjunctive subjectivity be contained within the analyst, but not that it be abandoned. Ultimately, it is the transition from the holding position toward collaborative interchange that will allow analyst and patient explicitly to address and ultimately to integrate dependence and mutuality within the psychoanalytic setting and thereby engage in an intersubjective dialogue. The movement toward mutuality will require that the analyst of the holding situation begin to fail in ways that increasingly expose her externality and thus her subjectivity to the patient.

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