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Mitchell, S.A. (1995). Commentary on “Contemporary Structural Psychoanalysis and Relational Psychoanalysis”. Psychoanal. Psychol., 12(4):575-582.

(1995). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 12(4):575-582

Commentary on “Contemporary Structural Psychoanalysis and Relational Psychoanalysis” Related Papers

Stephen A. Mitchell, Ph.D.

The articles in the special section of the Winter, 1995 issue of Psychoanalytic Psychology under the heading “Contemporary Structural Psychoanalysis and Relational Psychoanalysis” are presented in the spirit of “critical dialogue.” However, the dialogue offered by the authors is more like the kind of conversation Alice encountered in Wonderland than anything that might serve as the basis of a meaningful exchange of ideas.

The most appalling thing about these critiques of relational theories is how little effort these authors appear to have expended in trying to understand what it is they think they are arguing against. This sort of shallow disparagement is the sort of thing psychologists have long come to expect from the conferences and journals of the American Psychoanalytic Association; that it appeared in the journal of Division 39, without the targets even being offered an opportunity to respond, is truly disheartening.

Merton Gill, in his characteristic fashion and to his everlasting credit, is the only author who seemed to feel at all compelled take the issues seriously. He pointed out that the arguments in these articles are largely directed against quotes taken out of context and very superficial presentations of the positions of relational authors. Any reader interested in a fair presentation of the positions under attack is urged to consult the texts themselves.

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