It is ironic, though a little sad, that, in a piece extolling the virtues of conventional analytical thinking about practice, Bob Withers manages utterly to bust the confidentiality and right to privacy of both of his analysts. Each of these practitioners was instantly recognizable to me and, I would imagine, to many of the people who will read this book. Purely from the point of view of debate, I am glad that Withers, while making his position clear, has slipped up in this way, because it makes it so much easier for me to counter any implicit or explicit propaganda claims in his comment on my chapter that I am in some way an incompetent or one-sided clinician with a tendency to return people's feelings to them 'undigested'.
It is not clear to me that Withers realizes that he has in fact got a 'position'. This is part of the trouble when proposing innovations in practice and technique-the people who stick up for the old ways do not realize that theirs is as partial and polemical a view as that of the person who critiques it. Withers' point of view should not be regarded as self-evidently correct, as above debate or as reflecting some sort of natural law about therapy.
Returning to the quite harrowing accounts of his analysts' work with him, I have a few observations to make. The analyst who became psychotic was, we are told, a Marxist. It is not at all clear from Withers' account what he is trying to tell us. Her psychosis and her Marxism seem, for him, to be connected. Surely this is primarily a case of an analyst not being well enough to practise and the only sensible response on Withers' part would have been to report her to the relevant authorities?
The analyst who supported Israel seems to have been completely unable to deal with the political material with which she was faced. This can only strengthen my case that, without making all of analysis revolve around the political dimension of experience, the profession had better start to think of responsible ways of working with this relatively new type of material with which we now are faced every day.
En passant, I would point out how 'political' Withers' personal analytical material was in both analyses. His political selfhood was crying out for recognition. He needed an informed and sensitive analysis of this material that, without neglecting its manifold symbolic meanings, apprehended (and respected) it just as it presented itself, on its own level and in its own terms.
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Publication information: Book title: Controversies in Analytical Psychology. Contributors: Robert Withers - Editor. Publisher: Brunner-Routledge. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 2002. Page number: 151.
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