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Baker, M.W. (1996). Comment to Rabin. Psychoanal. Psychol., 13(3):419-420.

(1996). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 13(3):419-420

Comment to Rabin

Mark W. Baker, Ph.D.

Herbert Rabin's (1995) article “The Liberating Effect on the Analyst of the Paradigm Shift in Psychoanalysis” was a refreshing and insightful look at the continuing paradigm shift from a one-person to a two-person psychology being experienced in psychoanalysis today. I was especially impressed with Rabin's vulnerable confession of the personal distress this shift has brought about in his professional life and how this might help explain the resistance to this same shift in the theoretical orientations of our colleagues.

In an otherwise outstanding article, Rabin unfortunately drew one conclusion that was based on an incomplete understanding of intersubjectivity theory. He stated,

In contrast, the kind of error more likely to be made from an intersubjective perspective, with its roots in self psychology, is exemplified by misunderstanding idealization reactions to the analyst as developmental needs, when in fact the function of the idealizing statements is to defend against hostile aggression. (p. 475)

Although intersubjectivity theory, which has had a separate line of development from self psychology, does not see all idealizing statements as defenses against aggression, defensive idealization is specifically addressed by the concept of the defensive self ideal (Stolorow, Brandchaft, & Atwood, 1987). Once instance of the defensive self ideal is when the patient makes use of idealizing statements toward the therapist that do not have their roots in unmet developmental idealization longings. Instead, the patient experiences the therapist as the embodiment of the self ideal that the patient wishes to achieve but falls painfully short of at the present time. Sitting across the room from one's self ideal under these conditions arouses feelings of shame and envy that are readily evocative of a restitutive rage (Stolorow, 1986).

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