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Benjamin, J. (2004). Escape from the Hall of Mirrors: Commentary on Paper by Jody Messler Davies. Psychoanal. Dial., 14(6):743-753.

(2004). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 14(6):743-753

Escape from the Hall of Mirrors: Commentary on Paper by Jody Messler Davies Related Papers

Jessica Benjamin, Ph.D.

The author suggests some ways in which this important paper contributes to the relational perspective on clinical work. In particular, the analyst's role in owning participation in the struggle for the position of the doer, the “bad one” is seen as crucial to shifting out of the negative symmetry in which each person feels done-to by the other. Davies's crucial identification of the dynamic whereby the child must own all of the badness for the parent helps to clarify how repetition works in the analytic dyad. Whereas the repetition may be understood in terms of the complementary relation of doer and done-to, the owning of responsibility for participation is associated with the space of thirdness, the alternative. This author sees the Davies paper as a seminal contribution to the effort to unpack the mystification that projective processes foster, that are concretized in relationship rather than merely in the individual psyche by forcing the other to bear the toxic identity while denying it in the self. Davies's work illustrates how the intersubjective third can be reestablished by the analyst's careful ownership of hatred and also makes clear that the issue is recognition of what cannot really be hidden, except by reproducing mystification in the analytic process. This author also notes that Davies has provided an important redefinition of what has often been misunderstood as disclosure.

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