As I return to this dialogue, I welcome Dr. Prall and want to express that I find his ideas and questions very stimulating and interesting. Please allow me to say that I find this dialogue among the four of us very interesting and enjoyable.
I must also apologize for my limited command of the English language which sometimes, in my quest for making myself understood, causes me to overlook certain subtleties and to express myself in too emphatic a way.
In order to answer Dr. Prall's and Dr. Luepnitz's new contributions, I would like to go back to the necessary steps for a debate to advance, which Dr. Luepnitz quoted from my work in her first comment. I believe that Dr. Prall reminds us of some of the questions that are of our common interest: Can different approaches dialogue in psychoanalysis? What makes an analyst choose a certain approach instead of others, or change his/her ideas? I would also like to stress Dr. Prall's question: “Who benefits?” If we agree that these questions are interesting for us, the next step is to identify convergences and divergences among us, and, something that is a more challenging point, to see if it is possible to establish agreements regarding the means by which our disagreements can be settled.
More than specific disagreements, my feeling is that due to the epistemological complexity of psychoanalysis, we oscillate among diverse kinds of arguments in order to ground our statements. Writers on the theory of argumentation, such as Toulmin (1976), or Van Eemeren and Grootendorst (2004) among others, differentiate three views of reasonableness, which they call geometrical, anthropological, and critical. The geometrical or demonstrative view lead us to accept certain premises (Freudian, Kleinian, Lacanian, etc.) and to intend to coherently derivate from them the way to face any question. The problem is that those premises must remain unquestioned and unquestionable. The consequences are the isolation of psychoanalytic groups, each of which has their own language, exclusions, and the use of analysis and supervision as means for indoctrination. Undoubtedly, this inevitably occurs when psychoanalysis functions as Weltanschauung. And we can see its effects, as we have previously mentioned in this dialogue, in the discussions between Freud and Jung and in many others that continue at present.
The second view described by these authors is the anthropological or rhetorical-persuasive one, where the reaction of the audience plays an important role in the argumentation. Dr. Luepnitz refers to the importance of taking into account this perspective when she mentions Shedler's comments about the limited effects of arguments based on evidence in certain audiences. My feeling is that psychoanalysis is sometimes strongly requested to be attuned with current cultural trends and that this fact sometimes helps, but sometimes it does not, to the need to be attentive to what emerges from its own clinical experience.
Facts and stories are conflicting allies in psychoanalysis. I do not find it offensive to highlight stories but I would like to note that I find the consequences of forgetting facts potentially offensive. What explode in the atomic bomb are atoms, not stories. But I think I can grasp Dr. Luepnitz's point of view that stories can make bombs explode. The challenge is to decide when to support our statements in facts and when to do it in stories, knowing that both are so mutually entangled.
The third perspective states that even if the criteria of reasonableness are relative to place and time, it is possible to evaluate the intersubjective validity of arguments by their own merits. This makes it necessary to examine the merits of an argument and it leads us to Dr. Prall's question regarding what leads an analyst to a certain theoretical and technical position.
My training took place in a moment when psychoanalysis in River Plate (Modevideo and Buenos Aires) changed from a hegemonic Kleinian position to a pluralistic one, when in the same institute we had teachers, supervisors and analysts who felt interested in different authors and traditions. This led me to try to understand why I was getting closer to one or another, going beyond the evident effect of direct and crossed transferences, institutional trends, etc. That also led me to choose for my doctoral thesis for the Universidad de Buenos Aires the study of the changes of ideas in the analysts of that period (70s-80s) in Montevideo and Buenos Aires. I conducted in-depth interviews with 20 analysts and I analyzed them according to the grounded theory. I could distinguish two spirals in the evolution of ideas: one creative, with a stimulating internal "forum" which led to prioritize criteria of internal resonance, clinical usefulness and critical analysis on the theories, which allowed the analyst to use and communicate his implicit theories (in Sandler's 1983 sense). On the contrary, in other cases, the dialogue interieur was restricted and the tendency was to reproduce a new system of hegemonic thought that did not allow building mini models from different approaches that could serve as alternative hypotheses to see which of them better adjusted to the needs of the patient. This thesis is unpublished but some ideas were included in my paper, 'What kind of evidence makes the analyst change his or her theoretical and technical ideas?' (In: Pluralism and Unity? Methods of Research in Psychoanalysis, M. Leuzinger-Bohleber; A.U. Dreher; J. Canestri, (eds.), London: International Psychoanalytical Association, 2003. p. 125-136).
The weight of the internal resonance of theories had caught my attention. In several cases the analyst got closer to that author who helped him/her more to face unsolved aspects in his/her analysis or to continue his self-analysis. Also what he learned with patients and from experiences of his own life played an essential role. It seemed to me that what was essential was to continue an internal and external forum in which the merits of each theory in different levels could have an internal resonance and effects in practice. All this takes me to Dr. Prall's question regarding who benefits. Maybe the most difficult challenge for psychoanalysis is to be able to support its clinical affirmations using triangulation processes which include different psychoanalytic theoretical perspectives, research methodologies and fields of knowledge. In this case the key question is what theory is most useful to the analyst to best achieve the best benefit for his/her patients. Regarding the second question mentioned at the beginning, "To establish agreement regarding the means by which the disagreement can be settled" these are the arguments that in my opinion have more weight.