A Meeting of Minds: Mutuality in Psychoanalysis by Lewis Aron

By Lewis Aron

During this richly nuanced review of many of the dimensions of mutuality in psychoanalysis, Aron indicates that the relational method of psychoanalysis is a robust advisor to problems with method and healing technique. From his reappraisal of the innovations of interplay and enactment, to his exam of the difficulty of analyst self-disclosure, to his concluding comments at the relational import of the analyst's ethics and values, Aron squarely accepts the scientific tasks attendant to a postmodern critique of psychoanalytic foundations.

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So, to return to the story of the development of the relational orientation at New York University, here we were, in a program that divided up the world of psychoanalytic theory and practice neatly between the Freudian and the interpersonal. Many of us, candidates, graduates, and faculty, began to feel more and more that we fit into neither camp. A "potential space" emerged as "transitional" between the Freudian and the interpersonal world views. By 1988 a new track, or orientation, was created.

I do so with some ambivalence because I am cognizant of the dangers of seeming to establish a new school, cult, or sect within psychoanalysis. ClassifYing these theories under the rubric of relational psychoanalysis, however, serves didactic purposes because it helps to demonstrate certain trends and developments within American psychoanalysis over the past two decades. Copyrighted Material 20 THE RELATIONAL ORIENTATION Throughout this chapter I have been describing the development of relational theory on two different levels, the local institute level and the national (and even international) stage of psychoanalytic thought.

And perhaps most important, we were exposed to feminist and postmodem cultural critiques of all of these theories, which demanded the reconceptualization of psychoanalytic theory and practice. All these influences pushed against the boundaries of the rigid framework of a two-track system. I had studied with mostly the Freudian faculty and supervisors and considered myself a Freudian analyst when I graduated. But I was interested in and drawn to these new developments and to the evolution of contemporary interpersonal theory, particularly as reflected in the work of Edgar Levenson (1972, 1983), for whom what was talked about in psychoanalysis was always simultaneously being enacted between the participants.

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