Self Psychology Page 


Winter 2000

A forum for ideas expressed in a single sentence, or less.

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Editors: George Atwood and David Klugman


1. Isolated minds are Descartesmentalized.

Robert Stolorow



a. In a life constituted entirely by lies, the only authentic action possible is suicide.

b. In a life constituted entirely by lies, the ultimate act of compliance is suicide.

George Atwood


3. One result of psychoanalysis is that problems do not disappear from, but rather into our lives.

Barry Magid


4. The theory that mutual recognition necessitates a destruction of omnipotence in order to make room for the otherness of the Other, may be at risk of universalizing what is only one route to a sense of the Other as an independent center of experience and initiative: traumatic impingement on early organizations of subjective life (retrospectively identified as omnipotence in need of being destroyed) and the response to the trauma of forming a lastingly reified image of oneself and one's experience being insulated from contact with the Other, mirroring the Cartesian binary that separates the intrapsychic from the intersubjective.

David Klugman and George Atwood


5. A contemporary debate in psychoanalysis is anchored at a personal level by widely contrasting attitudes toward what is possible in human life: Cartesian thinking, which posits the isolation of the mind and the duality of mind and body, arises from an unconscious attitude of resignation and even cynicism as to the possibility of healing a breach in relatedness; certain trends in post-Cartesian thought, positing interdependence and approaching mind-body relations phenomenologically, reflect an attitude of hope that sustaining relations to others can be restored and that personal fragmentation can thereby be brought together in an embracing unity.

George Atwood and David Klugman


6. If your parent ORDERS you to be independent, you should respond by saying: "If a Greek man comes up to you and says, 'all Greeks are liars, do you believe him?'"

Christopher Atwood (age 11)


7. As our ancient, arboreal ancestors learned to see color to better distinguish poisonous from nutritious fruit, they relied on pigments (colors) previously evolved by the flowering, fruiting plants to attract the pollinating affections of the flying insects - - in that very successful, primeval competition that finally defeated the hegemony of the ferns - - and so the sky turned blue as the wasps and bees danced.

Tom Atwood (from Why the Sky is Blue)


8. From having little to having nothing takes one's life away.

Ramon Riera


9. Schools of psychotherapy that view psychological dilemmas as ultimately composed of pathogenic "narratives" over which the patient should acknowledge his or her "authorship" or agency paradoxically encourage a disavowal and intellectualization of these dilemmas - for in viewing one's life only as an aesthetic object, a kind of novel to be "reauthored" or otherwise manipulated, one ceases to feel it as a lived reality.

Kyle Arnold



(a) Kleinian game: "I'm rubber, you are glue;

                                        everything you say bounces off of me,

                                        and sticks to you."

Julia Schwartz


(b) Kleinian greeting: "You feel fine,

                                         how am I?"

Robert Stolorow


11. Solipsism is a fantasy of the traumatized.

David Klugman



Classic Deep Thoughts

1. [O]ne of the greatest difficulties encountered in bringing about favorable change is this almost inescapable illusion that there is a perduring, unique, simple existent self, [which is] in some strange fashion, the patient's, or the subject person's, private property.

Harry Stack Sullivan - 1950


2. An analyzable patient is a patient with whom the analyst can maintain the illusion of neutrality.

Merton Gill - 1982


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