What is Specific About Psychoanalysis Today
|10th December 2010 - 12th December 2010|
Does psychoanalysis provide a “new experience”?
What is interpreted and why?
What is free association?
What is countertransference?
Is neutrality important?
Where does transference come from?
What is a transference interpretation?
What is specific about the way we do psychoanalysis? Do we know?
Often it is not clear what we mean when we say we do psychoanalysis. Divergences began to emerge a very early point in our history. At first they were dealt with by authority – Freud chose to inform Adler and the others in the Vienna group that Adler was not practicing psychoanalysis but he never said why. Since then there have been occasional schisms and we have struggled to define what we mean as well as to recognize when we are doing it and when we are not.
Although some still try, exercising authority has not worked as a way to resolve questions. But definitions have not helped much either. Instead we have fragmentation - pluralism and potentially “anything goes”.
20 years ago Robert Wallerstein argued there must be some “common ground”. He suggested that despite apparent theoretical differences there were clinical lines of convergence –most psychoanalysts used some concept of resistance and transference. His effort inspired thought and has continued to do so; but it was also immediately contested. Psychoanalysts rarely agree what the transference is, for instance. In parallel it is frequently the case that clinical presentations by one psychoanalyst – even an eminent psychoanalyst – can be branded “not psychoanalysis”. Comments of this sort are heard in ordinary scientific meetings – or after them. The presentations and discussions in the International Journal's Analyst at Work series followed similar lines.
In 2002 the EPF (European Psychoanalytic Federation) created a Working Party on Comparative Clinical Methods to develop a systematic means of comparing the ways analysts work and discussing the differences. As usual the immediate experience was that we couldn't do it. Initially the workshop participants found it difficult to think about how another analyst worked without trying to tell them how to work – “ overvision ”. They also seemed to lack a conceptual structure to analyze and compare what analysts were doing. The Working Party then developed a method of discussion and a framework for making comparisons. We are now in the process of collecting samples of the way psychoanalysts work, as discussed in detail in these groups.
This conference will try to advance the process of understanding what we really do when we do psychoanalysis. There are small group clinical seminars on Friday night and an introductory session on Saturday morning. Two experienced clinicians will present work and participants will have the opportunity to discuss it first with them and then in small groups using the EPF concepts. The focus will be on how the analyst “does it”. We will then hear the two presenters discuss their similarities and differences with each other and have a further discussion between them, experienced colleagues and some members from the EPF project. We hope in this way to provide a unique opportunity to address (and help each other to address) what exactly we think we are doing when we do psychoanalytic work and to take rigorous clinical thinking forward. We will attempt to avoid overvision !
Speakers and Clinical Seminar Leaders will include: Dana Birksted-Breen, Catalina Bronstein, Olivier Bonard, Donald Campbell, Marie-France Dispaux, Michael Feldman, Robert Hinshelwood, Betty Joseph, Chris Mawson, David Millar, Richard Rusbridger, Anne-Marie Sandler, David Tuckett and Arnold Wilson