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Unread March 12th, 2005, 06:16 PM
Paul Wachtel Paul Wachtel is offline
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 8
Default Re: Cyclical psychodynamics and contorl-mastery theory

I am very puzzled how Patsy Wood can persistently see cyclical psychodynamics as “arguing that Ruth ... was trying to get the therapist to collude with her in her neurotic, intense and painful reenactments,” or that she was as attempting to “simply reenact traumatic, neurotic dynamics,” or was “ highly motivated to compulsively reenact traumatic dynamics and thus sought a therapist who would provide a sanctioned foundation for this experience.” This virtually stands cyclical psychodynamics on its head. The very essence of the cyclical psychodynamics view is irony, the idea that what we end up getting tangled in again and again is often THE VERY OPPOSITE of what we are seeking but is a nonetheless predictable irony that results from the way that vicious circles play themselves out. I have repeatedly distinguished, for example, the cyclical psychodynamic emphasis on irony with the classical Freudian notion of the repetition compulsion, precisely because I do NOT posit that the patient is unconsciously “trying” to perpetuate the pattern. This is so central to the cyclical psychodynamic point of view that I am startled that Wood would attribute the opposite view to me. But in thinking about how this strange mispercpetion could happen, I think maybe an interesting and important idea/distinction may be introduced. Perhaps the confusion derives from the following sentence in Wood’s comment: “CPDT, on the other hand, would argue that Ruth did not necessarily have a plan to get better but was trying to get the therapist to collude with her in her neurotic, intense and painful reenactments.” It seems that Wood assumed that if I do not emphasize the idea of a”plan” per se, then I MUST assume that she is intentionally trying to get the therapist to collude with her. The paper with Annette DeMichele spells out why, although I find myself in enormous agreement with control-mastery theory in so many ways, I am nonetheless not inclined to conceptualize in terms of the patient’s “plan,” but rather, in terms of the patient’s fears and hopes. Among other things, these latter terms, especially if used together, highlight more the centrality of conflict.
For extrinsic reasons I have come late to this discussion, and so will be trying to “catch up” with it bit by bit. I am commenting first on Patsy Wood’s contribution because it is the first I am seeing, but I am sure I will have more to say as I further absorb myself in this exchange.

Paul Wachtel
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