PRESIDENT'S REMARKS: DREW TILLOTSON, PSY.D.
As summer approaches, we wind down just a bit, take time with family and loved ones, and hopefully create some psychic space to reflect on what we have learned and are learning.
Dr. Alan Kessler recently presented on Masochism and Self-Defeat with discussant, Dr. Charles Fisher, at our Spring Scientific Meeting. I was intrigued by their discussion of the mutative qualities of interpretation in contrast to the therapeutic action of the relationship between patient and analyst/therapist. It wasn't as if they were saying that interpretation was superior to relationship, nor was relationship the only transformative way to the truth. Rather, their discussion got me thinking about interpretation within the matrix of the therapeutic encounter and the power of the analytic relationship.
How do we come to say what we say to our patients? From where do we muster the authority to make interpretations? Do we risk being the "sadist"? Does our understanding come from something in the relationship between the patient and us? How do reverie, imagery, history and countertransference affect what we offer and understand in any given moment? Obviously, we live daily with these questions. I found myself seeking out the late Stephen Mitchell and offer you the following quote:
"... In the self-authorizing empowerment of the analytic process, the analyst's traditional rank-pulling can only be counter productive. Yet it is important that the analyst be able to hold onto a sense of the value of his or her input as offering potential utility for meaning-making, self-expansion, and self-reflection... Can the patient learn to take in something important from the analyst without risking impossible self-betrayal in a myriad of forms? Can the analyst hold on to the sense that she or he has something important to offer despite the patient's well-earned wariness of such claims in others? It is precisely in their collaborative struggle to find a way to make that possible that the most important analytic work is done." "Mitchell, S.A. (1998). The Analyst's Knowledge and Authority. The Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 67:1-31.
I hope your summer is going along swimmingly.
Drew Tillotson, Psy.D.