While Poland uses traditional language and clings to the idea that insight via interpretation is what is mutative, he nonetheless recognizes the power of the implicit and procedural and its consequent necessity for the analytic attitude to be open, even to explore the analyst’s self. He grapples with this by delineating the “declarative interpretation” (content) and the” procedural interpretive attitude” (process). More than once, Poland notes that psychoanalysis is defined by its belief in the unconscious with its wellspring of hidden motivation and meaning. An interpretation, he writes, must include something new in understanding or experience. His emphasis on exploring new understandings might seem to privilege content over process except that Poland is writing about an interpretive attitude (part of process) which he deems necessary for change to occur. –Poland speaks to process when he “wondered about what was unfolding between us” [p.820]—The interpretive attitude includes caring curiosity, and inquiry, exploration, and revelation, all working toward bulwarking the premise that there is always more to be learned.
What Poland calls the interpretive attitude I might call the implicit welcoming we offer our patients to hear whatever the patient brings, to bear it, to think about it, and, in heights of inspiration, articulate new meaning. I disagree with Poland that experience can always eventually be put into words or even that putting experience into words is a necessary component for change to occur. Sometimes, the procedural experience of openness, without interpretation, is sufficient.
More than the willingness to explore and interpret, an analytic attitude includes behaving ethically. Allphin says that qualities of an analytic attitude strive to:
hold the needs of the patient as the priority;
[be] devoted to the growth and development of the patient;
be conscious of their impact on patients;
presumably…avoid suggestion. [author’s italics];
[and]deal with ambiguity and paradox.
Allphin alludes to the necessity in training of offering a place for the neophyte analyst to discuss the most shameful of fears and feared transgressions, just as we offer to our patients. Inviting in the shadowed side of our patients and ourselves allows for greater recognition. Referring to Buber’s I-Thou relationship and its concomitant absence of projections onto the other, Allphin writes “The self cannot be whole if parts of it are unknown.” A good enough analyst is not free of flaws but rather is willing to own responsibility and make those flaws which affect the analytic relationship part of the negotiation as both participants strive toward mutual recognition.
As an aside, the issue of confidentiality and “duty to warn” will be discussed by Barry Cohen, Esquire on November 16, 2013 at the Tampa Law Center where we will discuss the none to rare clash between what is legally required and what is therapeutic.
Allphin,(2005). An ethical attitude in the analytic relationship. Journal of Analytical Psychology, 50:451-468
Poland, W.S. (2002). The Interpretive Attitude. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 50:807-826.