Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Frequency and the Frame

Stern considers the argument over frequency when analysts try to define what psychoanalysis is. He advocates that intrinsic criteria (not extrinsic criteria such as frequency) ought to define what analysis is, and does not think interpretation of transference is such an intrinsic, defining criterion. What is intrinsic to the process emerges from the dyad within the ‘analytic third’ and requires “freedom to find their way into” the process. Frequency does not distinguish psychoanalytic psychotherapy from psychoanalysis, but rather it is the training of the clinician, and her willingness to engage in such a process with each particular patient, which delineates therapy from analysis. This willingness includes an openness to negotiation.

Because some things the analyst imposes “unilaterally,”Goldberg also does not think that everything in the clinical situation is co-created or negotiable. [Here I think he may have a too narrow definition of negotiation. Negotiation requires that we put our desires on the table, but does not guarantee that we get to have what we want. Negotiation means it can be talked about in a welcoming way, and is not the same as compromise or submission.]  Goldberg agrees that analysis cannot be defined simply by external criteria such as frequency, but notes that certain external criteria – a place of meeting, an agreed upon meeting time, for example—and an understanding not to physically harm each other, are required for the process and for a sense of safety. He asks us to consider the purpose of the frame and what is its mechanism of action. It is not enough that frequency be negotiable, rather we must investigate what effect increased or decreased frequency has on psychic reality and self regulation.  But what is intrinsic to analysis? Goldberg cautions against but notes that what we believe intrinsic often cannot be separated from our theoretical point of view.

Goldberg, P. (2009). With Respect to the Analytic Frame: Commentary on Paper by Steven Stern. Psa. Dial., 19:669-674.

Stern, S. (2009). Session Frequency and the Definition of Psychoanalysis. Psychoanal. Dial., 19:639-655

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