Tuesday, February 5, 2013

John Fiscalini - Coparticipant Inquiry

"Two paradigms have dominated psychoanalytic praxis: the classical model that views the impersonal analyst as objective mirror, and the interpersonal-relational model that views the analyst as intersubjective participant-observer. A shift in psychoanalytic consciousness, however, has been taking place, giving rise to coparticipant inquiry, a third paradigm that integrates the individualistic emphasis of classical theory and the social focus of participant-observation, avoiding the reductionism of each. This new perspective, which is rooted in the radical teachings and clinical experiments of Sandor Ferenczi and the early writings of Benjamin Wolstein, presents a significantly different concept of analytic data, technique, and process, and a different perspective on the nature of analytic participation. This essay articulates the seven guiding principles of coparticipant inquiry and reviews their implications for such analytic issues as transferernce and countertransferenceanalysis, defenseanalysis, the therapeutic role of immediate experience, the uses of self-disclosure, and the curative effects of the living through process. The clinical dialectics of the interpersonal and the personal dimensions of the coparticipant self are examined. The inherent mutuality, bidirectionality, psychic symmetry, egalitarianism and dyadic uniqueness of coparticipant inquiry and its implications for analytic work are examined. In all this, the unifying theme is that of psychoanalytic inquiry as a personal encounter." (p. 437)

"As a concept of inquiry, coparticipation represents a clinical philosophy, a way of living psychoanalysis, rather than a defined set of prescribed techniques, clinical strategies, or rules of praxis.

Coparticipant inquiry is not exclusively associated with any one school of psychoanalysis, though it has been most fully developed in the interpersonal school, and, more recently, in post-Kohutian intersubjective psychoanalysis and other relational offshoots. The most comprehensive expression of coparticipant inquiry is that form of inquiry that is practiced by those analysts who make up the "radical empiricist" wing of contemporary interpersonal psychoanalysis(Fiscalini, 2004).

One may ask, Why use the term coparticipation instead of simply using a better-known, less awkward, term? I use the rubric coparticipation to emphasize the intrinsic mutuality, motivational reciprocity, psychic symmetry, coequality of analytic authority, and participatory bidirectionality of the analytic relationship.

Any psychoanalytic dyad or member of that dyad, out of personal reserve, individual inclination, or obsessional need for control, may proscribe inquiry into particular aspects of their coparticipant functioning and experience. There is, in such instances, an ongoing, continuing Co-participant process, but not a full coparticipant inquiry in that process. Nevertheless, in the coparticipant experience formed by the two copartners, they each, inevitably bring all of themselves into the analytic situation, whether or not this is recognized, acknowledged, or worked with. In other words, all analyses are coparticipant processes, but not all are Co-participant inquiries.

Coparticipant inquiry, the therapeutic use of coparticipant concepts, is premised on seven interrelated principles:

(1) The analytic situation is seen as an interpersonal field within which patients and analysts mutually create a shared field of experience. The coparticipants together forge a dyadic encounter unique to them, conjointly shaping the individual course and nature of their relationship.

(2) Analytic relatedness is seen as a working dialectic between interpersonal processes (intersubjectivity) and personal processes (unique individuality)—between, in other words, social adaptiveness and individual self-expressiveness. This brings to psychoanalytic practice a concept of a personal, nonrelational self in dynamicrelation to an interpersonal self, or "me" pattern. With the concept of personal "I" processes, of unique individuality and capability, such concepts as will, choice, self-determination, and agency come into analytic play. Too, the range of analytic metapsychologies expands to include personal fulfillment, or self-actualization, as a central dynamic.

(3) Analysts and patients are treated as analytic equals, co-analysts. Both analyst and patient are seen as continuously involved (to the best of their ability and desire) in the analysis of their transferential, resistant, and anxious co-participation with each other. Thus patients are actively encouraged to take a proactive role as analytic copartners. Therapeutic exploration, observation, confrontation, and interpretation are considered bidirectional and conjoint processes.

(4) Patients' personal and interpersonal responsiveness, responsibility, and resourcefulness are recognized and emphasized. Patients and analysts alike are seen as both open to interpersonal influence and as simultaneously self-determining, having final responsibility for their life choices.

(5) Metapsychological (interpretive) and methodological (technical) pluralism is emphasized. A radical individuation of interpretive myth and metaphor and of analytic method is encouraged. Given the psychic uniqueness of patient and analyst, and by extension, the dyadic uniqueness of their analytic relationship, it follows quite naturally that coparticipant inquiry calls for a radical individuation of metapsychologies. An even more radical, and potentially liberating, implication of coparticipation inheres in the assertion of a radical individuation of methodologies—that there is no right or proper or "standard" technique or form of inquiry that fits all.

(6) A technically freer, more self-expressive, and spontaneous inquiry is supported.

(7) The therapeutic importance of immediate experience in psychoanalytic exploration and the curative impact of new relational experience is emphasized, as opposed to the traditional focus on the curative primacy of formulative interpretation.

These characteristics or features of coparticipant inquiry comprise a view of the analysts expertise as residing, not in his or her "expert" knowledge of psychodynamics or "proper" technique, but in his or her capacities for facilitating and participating in an alive, creative, and imaginative inquiry.
" (pp. 441-443)

John Fiscalini (2006). Coparticipant Inquiry: Analysis as Personal Encounter. Contemporary Psychoanalysis, Vol. 42, pp. 437-451

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