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Richards, A. (1996). Discussion. Psychoanal. Inq., 16(1):107-117.

(1996). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 16(1):107-117


Arnold Richards, M.D.

This issue of Psychoanalytic Inquiry on the topic of interaction provides both a challenge and an opportunity for a discussant. The challenge is to illuminate a concept that is au courant but hard to grasp. The opportunity is to use the various commentaries on interaction as the basis for a wide-ranging discussion of the nature of psychoanalytic theory and clinical practice.

In what follows, I will define and sharpen the disagreement among the contributors, but I will also attempt to identify the basis for integration of certain viewpoints that only appear to be disparate. Let me record at the outset my general impression that, in addressing the notion of interaction, the contributors to this issue felt they were sailing in uncharted waters. Thus, each contributor turned to theories and concepts with which he or she felt at home: Meissner focused on empathy and the therapeutic alliance; Schwaber on the listening process; Sandler on the idea of the representational world; Oremland on relational matrices; Goldberg on issues of connection and self-objects; Hurst on the problem of abstinence; and Lichtenberg on the data of infant observation and infant-caregiver interaction.

Meissner's paper focuses less on analysis as a data-gathering process than on the curative process per se. His effort is to define the relationships among empathy, therapeutic alliance, transference, data gathering, and cure.

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