Psychoanalysts' multiple relational perspectives

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The specific contribution of the person of the analyst - his or her attitudes, fantasies, and entire range of emotional responses to the patient - have become the subject of much investigation in psychoanalytic literature. This paper describes the phenomenon of distinct and sometimes contradictory self-experiences in analysts that develop as part of the moment-to-moment process of a predominantly adaptive coping mechanism. It is suggested that at any given point, the analyst's perspectives (reflecting various self-states), like those of the patient, are multiple, and that the analyst "chooses" to place one such perspective at the center of experience. By choosing a certain self-state, the analyst can adopt, for example, a warm and loving stance with a regressed and demanding patient, or become harsh (e.g., setting boundaries, ending a session) with one who seeks affection and protection. This paper also suggests that the capacity to move between versions of self-states, to see them as complementary even when they are paradoxical, promotes a deeper understanding of paradoxes in the personality of the patient. Only when the analyst maintains a dialogue between various dissociated aspects of his or her analytic experience can a dialogue of this kind begin in the patient.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-368
Number of pages10
JournalPsychoanalytic Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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