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Robertiello, R.C. (1976). Theory and Technique. Psychoanal. Rev., 63(1):147-152.

(1976). Psychoanalytic Review, 63(1):147-152

Theory and Technique

Richard C. Robertiello

Psychoanalysis has been the victim of a strange dilemma. Since it has always wanted badly to identify itself as a science and to distinguish itself from hypnosis, suggestion, mystical conversion, and the like, it has revered its theoreticians. And then it has based a great many of its techniques on ideas that these same theoreticians have evolved. But theoreticians may not be very good at evolving techniques. Theoreticians are generally tight, intellectual, unemotional, and quite defended. There are very brilliant theoreticians who are very poor practitioners. But even the ones who have not lost touch completely with other human beings or their ability to deal with them are often quite constricted, rather shy and awkward with other people, and often rather schizoid in their personal life. Psychoanalysis has not made a great enough distinction between theory and practice or even more importantly between theoreticians and technicians. To add to this difficulty many analysts who are especially good at connecting emotionally with people and evolving new techniques through use of their interpersonal skills are not that capable or that interested in conceptualizing in depth the reasons they do what they do. This has left them open to the criticism that they do “wild psychoanalysis” and are not well grounded in what they do; they are generally disparaged by the logical, intellectual theoreticians.

Many of us acknowledge that we do not practice by the book, that what we do is not what we say we do, that some of the transactions between us and our patients that seem to be asides have a greater impact on patients than our standard procedures.

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