The Institute for Clinical Social Work

Syllabi Archive

CFDL 702: Psychodynamic Psychology VI Contemporary Controversies in Psychodynamic Theory and Practice

Ph.D. Program - Distance Learning: spring 2012-13

Jennifer Tolleson PhD

Course Description and Goals

Debate, dissent, and argumentation have characterized the history of psychodynamic thinking, interrogating how we think over time and revolutionizing what we do. Drawing primarily from contemporary American psychoanalytic scholarship, this seminar will focus on the examination of critical texts and controversies within psychoanalysis as these are reconstituting how we understand the work we do.

The goals for each student are:

  • To become familiar with certain ongoing debates and divergences as these continue to shape the development of psychoanalytic thought
  • To understand the implications of these controversies and innovations for contemporary practice
  • To become more critically aware of one’s implicit identifications with particular theoretical and clinical assumptions (which are, in turn, rooted in particular sociopolitical-historical moments), and to locate one’s thinking within the broader context of theoretical history.

Required Texts

Most readings are on the PEP archive. All other texts will be provided.

Attendance and Late Policy

The course is taught in a seminar/discussion format. Therefore, class attendance is required. For students who miss more than one class session (excepting a personal emergency), the overall course grade will be lowered one level. Students who miss more than two class sessions will automatically fail the course (in cases of personal emergency, the student will be asked to withdraw from the course and retake it the following year).

Course Requirements and Assignments

All readings are required. I am aware that there are many readings listed for this course; they will serve as the basis for our work in the classroom. For each class session, please study thoughtfully and critically each assigned article, taking notes and organizing your reflections as you go (please read the papers in the order listed on the course outline). Come to class prepared to articulate an argument rooted in your encounter with the material. Based on the readings in combination with your own personal and clinical experience, what position might you take in the context of each debate? Where do you agree, and where do you think particular positions fall short? What are the challenges raised by the various writers? How are you moved by the readings, and where do you remain unconvinced? How is each controversy significant to your clinical work, to your learning, and to the field more broadly? It is expected that you will present an argument of your own, and that you also be able to interact with your classmates in a rigorous and scholarly (and always respectful) way about their thinking.

To facilitate the study of the texts, we will maintain an ongoing “listserv” for the class, in which you can interact with one another (and with me) with questions and reactions to the material. It is expected that you will each participate in the “conversation” at least weekly with substantive critique, argument, queries, challenges, etc. This will also help prepare you for each class session.


Grading is based on the following: Quality of class participation: 100%. I will be evaluating your work in the classroom and on the listserv based on rigor, effort, engagement with the texts and with each other, and willingness to take intellectual risks.

Except in cases of extreme personal emergency (requiring permission from the instructor before the last class day), there will be no “incompletes” given for the class.


Students can contact me at or, or at 802-651-7670.

Course Outline

Class 1: Shifting Paradigms

  • Hoffman, I.Z. (1991). Discussion: Toward a Social-Constructivist View of the Psychoanalytic Situation. Psychoanal. Dial., 1:74-105
  • Hoffman, I.Z. (1992). Some Practical Implications of a Social-Constructivist View of the Psychoanalytic Situation. Psychoanal. Dial., 2:287-304
  • Stern, D.B. (1992). Commentary on Constructivism in Clinical Psychoanalysis. Psychoanal. Dial., 2:331-363
  • Leary, K. (1994). Psychoanalytic "Problems" and Postmodern "Solutions". Psychoanal. Q., 63:433-465
  • Eagle, M.N. (2003). The Postmodern Turn in Psychoanalysis. Psychoanal. Psychol., 20:411-424

Class 2: Countertransference

  • Hoffman, I.Z. (1983). The Patient as Interpreter of the Analyst's Experience. Contemp. Psychoanal., 19:389-422
  • Schwaber, E.A. (1992). Countertransference: The Analyst's Retreat from the Patient's Vantage Point. Int. J. Psycho- Anal., 73:349-361
  • Renik, O. (1993). Analytic interaction: Conceptualizing technique in light of the analyst's irreducible subjectivity. Psychoanal. Q., 62, 553-571.
  • Ogden, T. H. (1994). The analytic third: working with intersubjective clinical facts. Int. J. Psychoanal. Psychother., 75:3-19.

Class 3: Aggression

  • Ornstein, A. (1998). The Fate of Narcissistic Rage in Psychotherapy. Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 18, pp. 55-70.
  • Mitchell, S. A. (1998). Aggression and the Endangered Self. Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 18, pp. 21-30.
  • Harris, A. (1998). Aggression: Pleasures and Dangers. Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 18, pp. 31-44.
  • Fosshage, J. (1998). On Aggression: Its Forms and Functions. Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 18, pp. 45-54.
  • Fosshage, J. (1998). Discussion of Anna Ornstein’s: The Fate of Narcissistic Rage in Psychotherapy. Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 18, pp. 71-81
  • Harris, A. (1998). Discussion of Anna Ornstein’s: The Fate of Narcissistic Rage in Psychotherapy. Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 18, pp. 82-88.
  • Mitchell, S. A. (1998). Commentary on Case. Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 18, pp. 89-99.
  • Ornstein, A. (1998). Response to Discussants. Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 18, pp. 107-119.

Class 4: Self Disclosure

  • Greenberg, J. (1995). Self-disclosure: Is It Psychoanalytic?1. Contemp. Psychoanal., 31:193
  • Abend, S. (1995). Discussion Of Jay Greenberg's Paper On Self-disclosure. Contemp. Psychoanal., 31:207
  • Ehrenberg, D.B. (1995). Self-disclosure: Therapeutic Tool Or Indulgence?—Countertransference Disclosure1. Contemp. Psychoanal., 31:213
  • Epstein, L. (1995). Self-disclosure And Analytic Space—some Issues Raised By Jay Greenberg's Paper On Self-disclosure. Contemp. Psychoanal., 31:229
  • Jacobs, T. (1995). Discussion Of Jay Greenberg's Paper. Contemp. Psychoanal., 31:237
  • Gerson, S. (1996). Neutrality, Resistance, and Self-Disclosure in an Intersubjective Psychoanalysis. Psychoanal. Dial., 6:623-645
  • Layton, L. and Bertone, K.L. (1998). What's Disclosed in Self-Disclosures? Gender, Sexuality, and the Analyst's Subjectivity: Commentary on Paper by Samuel Gerson. Psychoanal. Dial., 8:731-739
  • Gerson, S. (1998). From Disclosure to Foreclosure: Reply to Commentary. Psychoanal. Dial., 8:741-746

Class 5: The Therapist’s Interpretive Authority

  • Mitchell, S.A. (1998). The Analyst's Knowledge and Authority. Psychoanal. Q., 67:1-31
  • Renik, O. (1998). The Analyst's Subjectivity and the Analyst's Objectivity. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 79:487-497
  • Cavell, M. (1998). In Response to Owen Renik's ‘the Analyst's Subjectivity and the Analyst's Objectivity’. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 79:1195-1202
  • Eagle, M.N., Wolitzky, D.L. and Wakefield, J.C. (2001). The Analyst's Knowledge and Authority. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 49:457-488
  • Hoffman, I.Z. (1996). The Intimate And Ironic Authority Of The Psychoanalyst's Presence.. Psychoanal. Q., 65:102-136
  • Maroda, Karen. ( 1999). “Reflections on the analyst’s legitimate power and the existence of reality.” In Seduction, Surrender, and Transformation, (pp. 161-180). The Analytic Press, Inc.

Class 6: Hermeneutics v Empiricism

  • Hoffman, I.Z. (2009). Doublethinking Our Way to “Scientific” Legitimacy: The D... J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 57:1043-1069.
  • Aron, L. (2012). Rethinking “Doublethinking”: Psychoanalysis and Scientific Research—An... Psychoanal. Dial., 22:704-709.
  • Safran, J.D. (2012). Doublethinking or Dialectical Thinking: A Critical Appreciation of Hoffm... Psychoanal. Dial., 22:710-720.
  • Hoffman, I.Z. (2012). Response to Safran: The Development of Critical Psychoanalytic Sensibil... Psychoanal. Dial., 22:721-731.

Class 7: Social Justice, Politics, and Psychoanalysis

  • Cushman, P. (1994). Confronting Sullivan's Spider—Hermeneutics and the Politics of Therapy,9. Contemp. Psychoanal., 30:800-844
  • Layton L (2006), Attacks on linking: the unconscious pull to dissociate individuals from their social context. In L Layton, NC Hollander, S Gutwill (eds.) Psychoanalysis, Class, and Politics: Encounters in the Clinical Setting. London and New York: Routledge, 2006; 107-117.
  • Botticelli, S. (2004). The Politics of Relational Psychoanalysis. Psychoanal. Dial., 14:635-651
  • Tolleson, J. (2009) Saving the world one patient at a time: Psychoanalysis and social critique. (Psychother. Politics. Int. 7(3): 190–205

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