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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

The Rediscovery of the Unknown: An Inquiry Into Psychoanalytic Praxis

Years ago, Loewenstein (1957) suggested that the analyst should act as if theory didnt exist. This extreme position - perhaps only possible for an analyst so secure in his theory that he cannot distinguish it from fact - nonetheless echoes a persistent theme in our literature. We must try not only to avoid suggesting to the patient what he thinks or feels, but we must try to avoid prefiguring for ourselves what we will come to understand. We need an open mind. There are many expressions of this idea, a kind of clinical common sense. Freud himself wrote to Ferenczi: 'one should not make theories - they must fall into ones house as uninvited guests while one is occupied with the investigation of detail' (Falzeder & Brabant, 1996, p. 74). But as we also know, Freud made theory into shibboleths, a basis for professional warfare. The battlefield of psychoanalytic history is littered with the corpses of those theoretical conflicts.