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Berman, E. (2003). Reply to Panel Questions. Psychoanal. Dial., 13(3):419-427.

(2003). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 13(3):419-427

Reply to Panel Questions Related Papers

Emanuel Berman, Ph.D.

“To Begin at The Beginning,” Dylan Thomas Suggested in The opening line of “Under Milk Wood.” But I find myself beginning at the end—at your last question—not out of defiance, but because expectations for the future are crucial in shaping the present.

Yes, I am quite confident in the future of psychoanalytic treatment, although I assume it will undergo radical changes in the years to come. My confidence is indeed related to a rather broad definition of “psychoanalytic treatment” as a synonym for “a talking cure,” rather than as any specific technique related to any particular theoretical model. Freud's genius, I believe, lay first and foremost in his discovering the rich potential for understanding and transformation inherent in the continuous, patient, and attentive dialogue of two individuals. It is a dialogue in which the dynamics of the dialogue itself are of interest, and through them the emotional currents of each individual become illuminated.

The use of a couch, specific frequencies and durations of treatments, additional “rules of the game,” theoretical concepts regarding mental life—all these can facilitate this process, but they also run the risk of ossifying and inhibiting it. In the next decades, the specifics may change in many ways, including ways we cannot foresee; but the core of listening to affective nuances, observing subjective and intersubjective subtleties, looking for words for them, struggling with the conflictuality of the process—this backbone, I believe, will survive.

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