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Rothstein, A. (2006). Reflections on the Concept “Analyzability”;. Psychoanal. Rev., 93(5):827-833.

(2006). Psychoanalytic Review, 93(5):827-833

Reflections on the Concept “Analyzability”;

Arnold Rothstein, M.D.

This paper attempts to clarify the notion of analyzability and presents the evolution of my thinking on this issue.

One basic issue regarding analyzability is whether it is still a viable concept. In my view, it is not. It is an outmoded concept, a vestige of the evaluative model. A frequently posed question is whether analyzability is contingent on certain capacities in the patient, such as the capacity to symbolize. I suggest that all human beings have the capacity to symbolize; however, that capacity may not immediately be obvious or manifest. More important, the question implicitly derives from the “evaluative” model for doing a consultation and beginning an analysis.

As a candidate I was taught how to begin a treatment from the perspective of the evaluative model. In spite of the inspiring contributions of Stone (1954), Loewald (1960), and Kohut (1968) in the 1960s, the evaluative model remained unquestioned at that time. In fact, it persists as the characteristic model of pedagogy in most institutes to this day. Analytic training in general, and training in analyzability in particular, may engender the search for the mythical “good analytic case.”

The evaluative model proposes that the analyst, as authority, greet a prospective patient with an evaluative attitude. The analyst is trained to ask the question “Is this patient analyzable?” In an effort to answer that question, the analyst assesses the patient's personality and makes a diagnosis. If the patient is considered “neurotic,” or in Glover's (1955) terms “transference accessible” (pp. 185-187), analysis is the recommended treatment.

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