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Greenberg, J. (1997). Old Before Its Time?: Commentary on Kenneth A. Frank's Paper. Psychoanal. Dial., 7(3):337-340.

(1997). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 7(3):337-340

Old Before Its Time?: Commentary on Kenneth A. Frank's Paper Related Papers

Jay Greenberg, Ph.D.

Relational psychoanalysis is coming of age. Created piecemeal, by authors who had little in common and knew nothing of each other, for many years the new approach addressed a wide range of issues in a cacophony of voices. There was little consensus—even about the problems that needed to be addressed—and absolutely no systemization. Systemization itself was a prime target of many relational thinkers; it had begotten both the abstruse, mechanistic theory of the Freudian ego psychologists and their narrow, rigid canons of technique.

On my reading, Frank's paper signals a change in the way relational analysts are thinking about their project. Frank carves out and holds our attention to what he considers the proper observational field (the totality of the analyst's participation, and especially the analyst's inadvertent participation). Following this, he reaches a technical prescription: the analyst must engage authentically with the patient. Just as Freud defined a subject and a method (the patient's unconscious and the analyst's neutrality), so does Frank. There is a surefootedness and a certainty about his approach that betokens the maturity of the tradition within which he operates. Frank knows what must be looked for and what must be done. This is what I mean by the coming of age of relational thinking, for better and for worse.

I will begin with the better, the suggestions that I find important and useful in Frank's paper. All of these stem from his tenacious commitment to what he considers a two-person model of the psychoanalytic situation and from his rigorous pursuit of its implications.

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