Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Interpersonal Psychoanalysis

This is such a different view of psychoanalysis that is more like a description of how our significant relationships can change our lives:

Stern (1996) addresses the contradiction that arises in interpersonal and relational psychoanalysis as a result of defining the analytic situation as a two-person relationship in which the analyst is no longer in the privileged position of authority:
While analysts are still experts in the room, it is no longer because they know exactly how to relate or exactly what to look for in the patient's experience---or in their own. Rather, they know how to look. They know to expect to be entangled and to expect to have trouble seeing the tangle and digging out of it. They are often unsuccessful, or rather they may be unsuccessful for long periods. But when they are successful, disembodying themselves helps their patients do the same. Experience that had never been formulated enters the realm of language and can finally be reflected upon by both participants. ... Once the analyst finds his way to kicking over the traces, the same old unwitting kind of relatedness becomes impractical and unnatural, even unpleasant, or the patient as well. [p. 283]
Stern describes the interpersonal treatment as beginning with an inevitable, albeit unconscious, enmeshment in the transference-countertransference relationship, a repetitive experience that is modeled on the patient's childhood experience. Both analyst and patient feel entangled in a relationship that feels problematic and that is difficult to formulate into language that is rational and understandable. The analyst's work and the therapeutic process involve formulating, understanding, and verbalizing in consensual or secondary-process language the previously unformulated experience, which then leads to growth and change. ---p. 24, Between Emotion and Cognition

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