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Tip: To review the bibliography…

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It is always useful to review an article’s bibliography and references to get a deeper understanding of the psychoanalytic concepts and theoretical framework in it.

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Benjamin, J. (1995). Comment. Psychoanal. Psychol., 12(4):595-598.

(1995). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 12(4):595-598


Jessica Benjamin, Ph.D.

As commendable as I find the idea of a journal issue dedicated to the controversy between different psychoanalytic schools. I must register some serious objection to the discussion of the relational perspective in the Winter issue of Psychoanalytic Psychology (PP; Vol. 12, No. 1). At no point do the contributors ever recognize the relational perspective for the broad, heterogeneous, and complex theoretical tendency that it truly is. Instead, the articles focus on the work of one relational analyst, Stephen Mitchell, as if he were the appointed spokesperson for a coherent, singular theoretical orientation. In a further narrowing of the terrain, they ignore his recent work, Hope and Dread in Psychoanalysis (1993), and concentrate exclusively on his older work, Relational Concepts in Psychoanalysis (1988). Once having assumed that the relational position can be equated with that of Mitchell's work, several articles juxtapose and discuss the differences in the position of his former co-author, Greenberg (1991). Much as many of us admire Mitchell's work, this use of it seems inappropriate either to his intentions or the subject at hand. Of course, it is tempting to pick a representative writer to set up a contrasting schema—relational versus structural—but precisely this schematization seems singularly unsuited to represent the relational position. As is readily apparent from Mitchell's own continued debates with other relational psychoanalysts in his 1988 and 1993 works—for instance, his critique of the developmental tilt in Winnicottian analysis and self psychology—the relational position simply cannot be subsumed in such a neat way. (This is a point that Bachant, Lynch, & Richards, 1995, make at the end of their article, although the main body of their essay seems founded on an equation of relational psychoanalysis with Mitchell's work).

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