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Berman, E. (2009). Ferenczi and Winnicott: Why We Need Their Radical Edge: Commentary on Paper by Michael Parsons. Psychoanal. Dial., 19(3):246-252.

(2009). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 19(3):246-252

Ferenczi and Winnicott: Why We Need Their Radical Edge: Commentary on Paper by Michael Parsons

Emanuel Berman, Ph.D.

Parsons's paper, “An Independent Theory of Clinical Technique,” is discussed. Agreement is expressed with many of the theoretical points made by Parsons, and the creative and freeing historical role of the British Independent tradition (recently attacked by Kleinian authors such as Segal) is praised. However, the author sees some of the clinical examples in the paper as expressing a traditionalist conception of psychoanalytic practice, with a strong one-sided emphasis on the analyst as a knowledgeable expert offering deep interpretations. Parsons does not question the nature of the actual intersubjective relationship in each dyad, with its fluctuations and its subtle nuances, which can go far beyond the proclaimed roles of the two partners, at times even reversing them. More radical points of view can be found in the work of Ferenczi and Winnicott, two authors who are significant both for Parsons and for the author; for example, Ferenczi's emphasis on the patient's capacity to interpret the analyst's countertransference, and the experiments with the setting both made in their search for an adaptation to the unique ‘analysand's needs. In conclusion, the paper calls for continued departure from standard techniques of any kind, critically deconstructing all traditional assumptions regarding the analytic process.

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