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Goldberg, P. (2009). With Respect to the Analytic Frame: Commentary on Paper by Steven Stern. Psychoanal. Dial., 19(6):669-674.

(2009). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 19(6):669-674

With Respect to the Analytic Frame: Commentary on Paper by Steven Stern

Peter Goldberg, Ph.D.

In this discussion of Steven Stern's paper, support is expressed for the position that analysis should not be defined simply by external criteria such as four-times-a-week frequency, but should get its definition from intrinsic criteria. This raises the question, however, of what the intrinsic criteria are understood to be, and what status to accord the fact that certain extrinsic or objective aspects of the clinical framework (a fixed setting, ground rules, prohibitions, and social and legal sanctions) seem non-negotiable, indispensable, and even constitutive of the therapeutic process, as is the analyst's unilateral application of analytic techniques. Note is made of how the paper lacks a rigorous approach to the actual phenomenology of the frame, thus forfeiting a conceptual appreciation of its distinctive structuring role and its complex functionality. In lieu of an adequate exploration of how the frame works in its own right, the paper superimposes a theory-driven and highly partisan position regarding the necessary malleability of the frame, deriving from the belief that everything in the clinical encounter is co-created and negotiated. A critique of this approach is offered, centering on what is seen as an inadequate distinction between structure and process in this model of the clinical encounter.

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