Course Title: Dialectical Constructivism: A Perspective on the Psychoanalytic Process (12 CE credits)
Instructor: Irwin Z. Hoffman, PhD
Meeting dates (2019): October: 19, 26; November: 2, 9, 16, 23
Meeting time: Saturdays: 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Location: 25 E. Washington Street, Chicago
In this seminar, we will study the essential elements of a perspective on the psychoanalytic process that I’ve called “dialectical constructivism.” Among the features of this viewpoint to be highlighted will be its integration of existential issues and more traditional psychoanalytic ideas. Experience is ambiguous and therefore fertile ground for multiple plausible interpretations and a wellspring for many value-laden choices. As a function of the ritual asymmetry of the analytic situation combined with the patient’s transference disposition, the analytic therapist has special power to overcome the malignant influence of early bad object ties, even as they are played out within the analytic relationship, and to affirm the patient as a responsible, creative agent in that very relationship and in the world.
What I am reacting against when I underscore the responsible agency of the participants are very deeply entrenched concepts that reside at the core of the psychoanalytic tradition. In particular I am thinking of concepts such as psychic determinism, free association, and evenly hovering attention, all of which serve the pursuit of an illusory “objective” truth while radically limiting the responsibility of the participants for their value-laden choices.
Much of our discussion will be based on readings from my book Ritual and Spontaneity in the Psychoanalytic Process; A Dialectical-Constructivist View, The Analytic Press, 1998. I would appreciate it if everyone in the class owned a copy of the book.
Irwin Z. Hoffman, PhD is Visiting Faculty at the Chicago Center for Psychoanalysis (CCP) and Faculty and Supervising Analyst at the National Training Program for Contemporary Psychoanalysis. He is Adjunct Clinical Professor at the New York University Postgraduate Program in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy and was faculty at the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Illinois College of Medicine for many years. He is on the editorial board of Psychoanalytic Dialogues, is a corresponding editor for Contemporary Psychoanalysis, and has served on the board of The International Journal of Psychoanalysis.
The co-author with Merton M. Gill of Analysis of Transference, Vol. II: Studies of Nine Audio-Recorded Psychoanalytic Sessions (1982), he is the author of a series of publications developing his “dialectical-constructivist” point of view, including his book Ritual and Spontaneity in the Psychoanalytic Process: A Dialectical-Constructivist View (The Analytic Press, 1998). In a series of essays since the book, Dr. Hoffman has explored new frontiers of this perspective centering on the responsibility of the patient and the analyst as creative collaborators in the analytic work and as moral agents in the world. Dr. Hoffman is in private practice in Chicago.