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Middle Phase

March 8, 2024 @ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm, Back Classroom

Third Year Adult Psychoanalytic Training (APT)
2023-24, 3rd Trimester — Fridays, 3:30-5:00pm
Katherine Weissbourd, PhD

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The focus of this class will be on how psychoanalysis is practiced, and how we can make the best use of psychoanalytic theory. In an analogy to describe psychoanalytic treatment Freud famously wrote:

“He who hopes to learn the fine art of the game of chess from books will soon discover that only the opening and closing moves of the game admit of exhaustive systematic description, and that the endless variety of the moves which develop from the opening defies description; the gap left in the instructions can only be filled in by the zealous study of games fought out by master-hands.”(On Beginning the Treatment, 1913)

The middle phase of treatment allows the analyst to move between foundational approaches such as containment, interpretation, the use of language, and insight;  and the complementary approach that highlights the freeing up of unconscious process through empathy, play, spontaneity, and creativity. In our study of psychoanalytic technique we will look at some of the classic approaches to treatment: interpretation, free association, and the repetition compulsion, alongside contemporary theories of intersubjectivity and relationality. Interspersed among these theoretical classes are chapters from the book Conundrums and Predicaments in Psychoanalysis: The Clinical Moments Project (2018), edited by Richard Tuch and Lynn Kuttnauer.  We will discuss four cases from this book. In each case the treating analyst faces a challenge, and is unsure what to do. Two experienced analysts from different theoretical perspectives present their “thoughts, feelings, and behavioral inclinations” (3), and then the presenting analyst describes what they did and why. These cases offer an opportunity to compare different approaches to clinical dilemmas, sharpening our critical skills and highlighting our awareness of similarity and difference among different psychoanalytic approaches. 

Learning Objectives

At the end of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate the connection between techniques highlighting interpretation and insight, and those which focus on empathy, relationality, and spontaneity in psychoanalytic treatment.
  2. Formulate differences and similarities among analytic models, and show how these contribute to understanding the specifics of each analytic treatment.
  3. Engage in critical reflection on alternate approaches to clinical dilemmas, seeing both the positive impact and the limitations of each.

March 8, 2024 — The possibilities and impossibilities of interpretation

[35 pages]

Poland, publishing in 2002, writes that interpretation is “an approach of open-minded curiosity… based on the certainty that unseen implications and hidden meanings lie behind manifest symptoms.” (p. 825) The analyst and patient explore this undiscovered territory together. Ogden, from an object relations perspective, highlights the emotional communication between patient and analyst. He writes, “my focus over the years has moved from what I mean to how I mean.” (p. 14) He describes the ways that clinical intuition shapes the interpretive attitude in his work. How does the analyst’s attitude of curiosity and engagement set the tone for the patient’s ability to risk deeper self-exploration and change?

Ogden, T. (2021) Chapter 3, “How I talk with my patients” in Coming to Life in the Consulting Room, Routledge, pp57-71.

Poland, W.S. (2002). The Interpretive Attitude. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 50(3):807-826.


March 8, 2024
3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
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(206) 328-5315
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SPSI on Madison
4020 E Madison St, #230
Seattle, WA 98112
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(206) 328-5315
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