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Unread March 12th, 2005, 06:35 PM
Paul Wachtel Paul Wachtel is offline
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 8
Default Re: "Integrating control-mastery theory & research with other theoretical perspective

I find Tom Rosbrow’s comments illuminating. I do think that part of the controversy (if that is the word for a discussion which, at least on my part, is of a point of view I greatly respect and admire) has to do with a “culture,” a shared language and vision among a group who work closely together, and that the terms end up feeling different to those outside the culture.
One central meaning of the plan concept as I read it that I DO share very strongly is that it is an attempt to counter the pathocentric way of thinking that had, unfortunately, become endemic to psychoanalytic discourse (and alas, still frequently is). Weiss and Sampson offered a reformulation in which the patient could be viewed much more positively, in which genuine empathy was possible because it was not empathy with a “primitive” creature or a ruined husk fixated or arrested at an early developmental level, but with a PERSON, and a person who is still creatively trying to master the traumas of his early years. That to me is VERY important and ENDURINGLY valuable. Interestingly, it is also a central concern of my own somewhat different theoretical perspective. In my book Therapeutic Communication, one of the central themes is the way that unwitting features of everyday clinical discourse are critical, accusatory, demeaning, and also how we can construct interpretations and interventions that not only avoid such unintended assaults but positively validate and build on the buds of change and the patient’s real strengths. In thinking about modes of thought in our field that converge on this theme, the work of the control-mastery group, along with the work of Dan Wile (is all good stuff concentrated in the Bay Area?) come particularly to mind.
As I indicated in my Psychoanalytic Dialogues piece and in my response to Patsy Wood in another thread, I do still have trouble with the “plan” idea (maybe because I am outside the culture). But I find myself enormously sympathetic to what I feel to be the overall spirit of the control-mastery approach in a lot of ways. Maybe cyclical psychodynamics is simply how the ideas of control-mastery theory get talked about on the EAST coast, which as Woody Allen has noted, is a different culture.

Paul Wachtel
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