Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Comments On: Benjamin Wolstein, Ph.D.: "The Analysis of Transference as an Interpersonal Process"

Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Comments On: Benjamin Wolstein, Ph.D.: "The Analysis of Transference as an Interpersonal Process"

Article excerpt

Wolstein's thought foreshadowed what many analysts now believe: that a change in scientific paradigm has been evolving in contemporary psychoanalysis, a shift from processes thought to originate in the depths of an isolated mental apparatus to processes understood as taking form within a relational matrix 1 or constitutive intersubjective system.2 From the perspective of this evolving paradigm, phenomena that have been the traditional focus of psychoanalytic inquiry are grasped, both developmentally and in the psychoanalytic situation, as crystallizing at the interface of reciprocally interacting worlds of experience. Transference, from this standpoint, is viewed as codetermined by the organizing activities of both participants in the analytic dialogue.

Noting its origins in hypnotic methods of symptom removal through excavation of the forgotten past, Wolstein criticized classical analytic technique for being "predominantly historical, deterministic and reductive." In Wolstein's view, transference is a microcosm of the patient's total personality and the central focus of analytic investigation. Transference is not primarily seen as a key for the unlocking of the patient's repressed past. Instead, the reconstructed past is used to illuminate the patient's personality patterns as they become manifest in the here-andnow experience of the present relationship with the analyst. Therapeutic change, according to Wolstein, "takes place in the context of immediate experience which the patient has of the analyst."

Unfortunately, Wolstein retained the notion that transference "distorts" what the analyst "knows" to be "true," a relic of isolated-mind thinking and objectivist epistemology that might jar the perspectivalist sensibility of a contemporary analyst. …

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