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Standard Dominance Versus Creation of Interludes of Equalization of Power in the Psychoanalytic Situation: Discussion of Case Presentation by Joseph Newirth

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Joseph Newirth tells us that it is his aim in the analytic work to facilitate a “symmetrical dialogue [that] involves an equalization of power, [and] a radical view of mutuality and of self-disclosure in the analytic relationship.” My thesis here is that the process falls short of that objective. Instead, it is characterized by an enactment in which the analyst is always dominant. Several examples of “power plays” are presented in which the analyst, in a manner partially institutionalized as standard psychoanalytic practice, repeatedly gains the upper hand in the analytic relationship. One important aspect of this enactment entails a systematic bias in favor of interpretations that attribute neurotic, primitive, or regressive motives to the patient at the expense of hearing and taking seriously the patient’s more mature perceptions and judgments, including those focused on the analyst himself.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Faculty Member and Supervising Analyst, Chicago Center for Psychoanalysis; Lecturer in Psychiatry, University of Illinois College of Medicine.

Publication date: July 15, 2005

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