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Bernstein, S.B. Bornstein, M. Palmer, J. Rosenbaum, A.L. Westin, S. (2008). Epilogue. Psychoanal. Inq., 28(4):527-527.

(2008). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 28(4):527-527


Issue Editor:
Stephen B. Bernstein, M.D., Melvin Bornstein, M.D., Jonathan Palmer, M.D., Arthur L. Rosenbaum, M.D. and Sharen Westin, M.D.

It is sometimes useful, as we contemplate writing about an analysis, to think that what we are about to do is to tell a story. In one iteration of this story, we are describing how one person helped another to gain a fuller picture of his or her life story or narrative. Before the analysis, the story had been experienced only as fragments, but afterwards it feels like a whole and the patient feels that he or she owns it. For the patient, the more integrated narrative leads to a greater sense of self and object differentiation, and an improved capacity to communicate and to relate. For the analyst, the process of translating the clinical experience into writing and sharing it with others leads to increased capacities to reflect on his or her work, increased confidence in his or her clinical skills, and can sometimes alleviate defenses against shame and guilt which had been an interference to writing.

Clinical writing requires that the analyst find a way to translate to a reader his analytic experience and reflections. Initially, a specific structure may be helpful, as it is in all of the arts and sciences. Such a structure is only a way of beginning and can be adapted to one's analytic precepts. It can be discarded when it becomes too confining or when the analyst has developed a more individual way of proceeding (Bernstein, this issue). The writer will need to find diverse language and devices to describe the experiences and interactions of the patient and analyst (Bornstein, this issue). The writer may experience the creativity and the self-analytic function that is a vital component of the writing (Palmer, this issue). Finally, the writer may recognize that all writing is part of its own unique organizational and social context (Rosenbaum, this issue).

Our discussants, Jacobs and Young-Bruehl, remind us that formats may also become utilized in formulaic manners which stifle analytic thinking. At best the format we have described should be used as a tool with which analysts can begin to explore and reflect, then comfortably discard as their own voice and authenticity become available to them. They also demonstrate the difficulty in separating teaching how to write about psychoanalytic process from the complicated history of certification in the American Psychoanalytic Association.

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