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Christiansen, A. (1995). Commentary: Primitive Splitting in the Field of Psychoanalysis. Psychoanal. Psychol., 12(4):599-602.

(1995). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 12(4):599-602

Commentary: Primitive Splitting in the Field of Psychoanalysis

Anthony Christiansen, M.A.

The special section entitled “Contemporary Structural Psychoanalysis and Relational Psychoanalysis,” in Psychoanalytic Psychology 12(1) was a fertile, highly informative collection of papers dedicated primarily to explicating, comparing and contrasting, and often defending the views of the contributors who, for the most part, would designate themselves as classical, in opposition to relational.

Although the volume was an exciting, interesting, and important contribution, it raised far more questions for me than it answered. Above all, it highlighted a problematic tendency much too prevalent in our field, among clinicians who would rigidly encamp themselves around particular claims of allegiance in variously defended quarters, declaring (either explicitly or implicitly) exclusive possession of the genuine article of psychoanalytic knowledge in toto. In presenting this ongoing observation, my criticisms lay not with one particular group or another, but rather with our field as a whole. As psychoanalysis undergoes continued assaults upon its integrity as a bona fide intellectual discipline and practice, by persons and forces largely outside our field, it seems that we continue to induce a greater ongoing trauma upon ourselves from within. For however fruitful the genuine exchange of psychoanalytic ideas may be when undertaken with the open mind that Freud considered the sine qua non of any psychoanalytic endeavor, we seem as individuals and as a group to be constricted dialogically by the most primitive forms of defensive splitting and infantile rivalry that make true exchange an impossibility.

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