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Safran, J.D. (2011). Theodor Reik's Listening with the Third Ear and the Role of Self-Analysis in Contemporary Psychoanalytic Thinking. Psychoanal. Rev., 98(2):205-216.

(2011). Psychoanalytic Review, 98(2):205-216

Theodor Reik's Listening with the Third Ear and the Role of Self-Analysis in Contemporary Psychoanalytic Thinking

Jeremy D. Safran, Ph.D.

I first read Theodor Reik's (1948) Listening with the Third Ear during the early years of my clinical psychology training in graduate school, long before I became an analyst, and many years before topics such as intersubjectivity, countertransference, and the subjectivity and internal processes of the analyst became fashionable in psychoanalytic writing. In rereading Reik today, it is striking to me what a profound impact his thinking had on my own development as a therapist (e.g., Safran & Muran, 2000) as well as the extent to which he anticipated major trends in contemporary psychoanalytic thinking.

One general line of contemporary thinking so clearly anticipated by Reik can be found in writing of theorists such Theodore Jacobs (1991), Christopher Bollas (1987, 1992, 1999), Thomas Ogden (1994, 2001, 2008), and the Italian analyst Antonino Ferro (2002). While there are important differences in the work and style of these authors, I group them together because they all emphasize the importance of ongoing reflection on their own associations while they are working, in order to help understand the patient, without necessarily disclosing their associations or countertransference reactions to their patients (Although both Jacobs and Bollas do on some occasions).

A second group of theorists who represent another extension of Reik's thinking consists of authors such as the late Stephen Mitchell (1988, 1993; Mitchell & Aron, 1999), Darlene Ehrenberg (1992), Lewis Aron (1996), Philip Bromberg (1998, 2006), Donnel Stern (1997, 2010), and Jody Davies (2004).

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