The Analyst's Knowledge and Authority: A Critique of the “New View” in Psychoanalysis

Morris N. Eagle, David L. Wolitzky, Jerome C. Wakefield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A critical assessment is presented of positions recently taken by Mitchell and Renik, who are taken as representatives of a “new view” in psychoanalysis. One article by Mitchell and two by Renik are examined as paradigmatic of certain ways of construing the nature of mind, the analyst's knowledge and authority, and the analytic process that are unduly influenced by the postmodern turn in psychoanalysis. Although “new view” theorists have made valid criticisms of traditional psychoanalytic theory and practice, they wind up taking untenable positions. Specifically called into question are their views on the relation between language and interpretation, on the one hand, and the mental contents of the patient on the other. A disjunction is noted between their discussion of clinical material and their conceptual stance, and their idiosyncratic redefinitions of truth and objectivity are criticized. Finally, a “humble realism” is suggested as the most appropriate philosophical position for psychoanalysts to adopt.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)457-488
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of the American Psychoanalytic Association
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology


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