Saturday, December 14, 2013

William Meredith-Owen: Are Relational Assumptions Eroding Traditional Analysis?

Abstract (p. 593): “The author designates as ‘traditional’ those elements of psychoanalytic presumption and practice that have, in the wake of [Michael] Fordham’s legacy, helped to inform analytical psychology and expand our capacity to integrate the shadow. It is argued that this element of the broad spectrum of Jungian practice is in danger of erosion by the underlying assumptions of the relational approach, which is fast becoming the new establishment. If the maps of the traditional landscape of symbolic reference (primal scene, Oedipus et al.) are disregarded, analysts are left with only their own self-appointed authority with which to orientate themselves. This self-centric epistemological basis of the relationalists leads to a revision of ‘analytic attitude’ that may be therapeutic but is not essentially analytic. This theme is linked to the perennial challenge of balancing differentiation and merger and traced back, through Chasseguet-Smirgel, to its roots in Genesis.
     An endeavour is made to illustrate this within the Journal convention of clinically based discussion through a commentary on [Warren] Colman’s (2013) avowedly relational treatment of the case material presented in his recent Journal paper ‘Reflections on knowledge and experience’ and through an assessment of Jessica Benjamin’s (2004) relational critique of Ron Britton’s (1989) transference embodied approach.”

From Conclusion (p. 609): “I still find myself inclined to resist this complete erosion of the symbolic realm. However, in the spirit of eschewing nebulousness and pretension, I would not claim for it any further remit beyond what is embodied in our (implicit) assumptions about the mother and the father, their intercourse, and our relationship to that. It is this that has given rise to the structured landscape of triangulation that has been a part of our psyche’s culture since Genesis and which ‘analytic attitude’ based clinical practice has shown we can reliably expect to encounter in the transference. A quintessential expression of this viewpoint was given by Roger Money-Kyrle (1971) in his last paper, aptly entitled ‘The aims of psycho-analysis’, the chief of which he defines as helping ‘the patient understand, and so overcome, emotional impediments to his discovering what he innately already knows’.”

William Meredith-Owen (2013) Are Waves of Relational Assumptions Eroding Traditional Analysis? Journal of Analytical Psychology, Vol. 58, pp. 593–614.

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