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Pizer, S.A. (1996). Negotiating Potential Space: Illusion, Play, Metaphor, and the Subjunctive. Psychoanal. Dial., 6(5):689-712.

(1996). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 6(5):689-712

Negotiating Potential Space: Illusion, Play, Metaphor, and the Subjunctive

Stuart A. Pizer, Ph.D.

This paper explores paradox and negotiation in the analytic process by focusing on an approach to clinical technique that seeks to optimize the therapeutic use of the potential in “potential space.” Specific elements of technique that serve to keep an intersubjective potential space open for ongoing negotiation between patient and analyst include the employment of metaphorical forms and subjunctive modes of language. Through the practice of playful and nonauthoritarian exchanges within the analytic duet, the patient may gain in both the accessibility and articulation of internal life, and develop the competence to straddle, rather than foreclose, the paradoxes inherent in a range of self-states and relational experiences. These techniques for negotiating potential space are illustrated in detail by excerpts from the analysis of “Donald,” whose earlier therapy was presented in a previous article.

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