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Cushman, P. (1996). More Surprises, Less Certainty: Commentary on Roland's Paper. Psychoanal. Dial., 6(4):477-488.

(1996). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 6(4):477-488

More Surprises, Less Certainty: Commentary on Roland's Paper Related Papers

Philip Cushman, Ph.D.

In Alan Roland's article we see him struggling with a basic hermeneutic problem: how to address differentness and the unknown. Let me suggest that we explore the differentness not only of the “subject,” but also of the researcher—that is, the cultural embeddedness and thus cultural limitations of the researcher. Although I might have a difference of opinion with Roland about how to grapple with some of these complex issues, I applaud his insightfulness and personal courage in facing them, and his continuing insistence that culture and history be considered fundamental aspects of psychoanalytic theory.

Roland's 1988 book, In Search of Self in India and Japan, situates Roland as struggling with sociocultural issues by learning about and grappling with scholarly traditions in the academy, which are usually referred to as cultural psychology or philosophical hermeneutics. It was this, above all other aspects of his writing, that I thought carried the most promise. While praising Roland's hopes and aims, I will also try to identify where I think his theory might not fully live up to his concern with culture, and I will suggest a hermeneutic way of addressing cultural differences that might better fit his vision. Parenthetically, I will also argue that Roland's theory develops problems at the same point as those of many current revisionist psychoanalytic theorists: they do not fully meet their initial promise of including the social realm in their theories. I look forward to Roland's response to my commentary, and I hope we might cooperate while addressing these most difficult issues.

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