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Rabin, H.M. (1995). The Liberating Effect on the Analyst of the Paradigm Shift in Psychoanalysis. Psychoanal. Psychol., 12(4):467-481.

(1995). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 12(4):467-481

The Liberating Effect on the Analyst of the Paradigm Shift in Psychoanalysis

Herbert M. Rabin, Ph.D.

A paradigm shift is developing in psychoanalysis. This is a shift from the positivistic belief that there are ultimate truths to be found within the intrapsychic structure of the patient, with the analyst as the arbiter of reality, to the “postmodern” perspective, where all knowledge is perspectival, contextual and nonuniversal. The analyst and patient together create or construct what is clinically useful. This new paradigm is reflected in Beebe, Jaffe, and Lachmann's (1992) dyadic systems perspective; Mitchell's (1988) relational theorizing; Hoffman's (1991) social constructivism; and Stolorow and Atwood's (1992) and Stolorow, Brandchaft, and Atwood's (1984, 1987) intersubjectivity theory. This shift is having a marked liberating impact upon psychoanalytic practice, as I illustrate with the effects of intersubjectivity theory upon my practice. From the intersubjective perspective, there are (a) few metapsychological assumptions, (b) no assumption of core universal conflicts, (c) a liberation of the analyst's feelings in ways that facilitate therapy, (d) a succeptability to different errors than those of other theories, and (e) a non-adversarial approach to resistance. These five ideas are elaborated and illuminated by a selective use of the literature and clinical vignettes. Finally, a personal addendum describes my painful conflict in moving from a traditional to a constructivist stance.

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