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Spezzano, C.J. (1995). Commentary. Psychoanal. Psychol., 12(4):593-594.

(1995). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 12(4):593-594


Charles J. Spezzano, Ph.D.

I have read, several times now, Psychoanalytic Psychology (PP) 12(1), in which a group of contemporary structural theorists were invited to critique relational psychoanalysis. As Chair of the Division 39's Publications Committee, I am delighted at the fact that this issue will, I speculate, be widely discussed and often referenced. What disturbs me is this: I tallied the references in the introduction and the five critique articles. Because the authors are “critiquing relational theories,” I would have expected that among them they would have studied what has appeared in journals such as Psychoanalytic Dialogues (PD) and Contemporary Psychoanalysis (CP). Yet, of the 82 references to journal articles in the six essays, only 8 were to articles in PD and only 3 were to articles in CP. Twenty-five were to the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 22 to the International Journal of Psycho-Analysis (IJP), and 12 to Psychoanalytic Quarterly.

The authors, individually and as a group, failed to do the research necessary to make their critiques the useful examples of comparative psychoanalysis I would very much like to see in our journal. Instead, they simply armed themselves with classical theory and with already-existing classical critiques of relational theories. We once considered having “headlines” on the cover of each issue of our journal. If we had done that, then the headline for this issue might easily have been “The Empire Strikes Back.”

Consider Wilson's essay. Using his references, one can see that to him relational theory is Ferenczi, Balint, Mitchell, and Greenberg. It is 1995, but nothing written by Mitchell other than the 1988 book on relational theory is referenced. Only two articles from PD are referenced, and one of those is Bachant and Richard's critique of that 1988 book by Mitchell. Nothing from CP is referenced.

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