Perspectives On Paradox

Greenberg and Mitchell (1983) did not feel one integrative view could ever contain, let alone resolve, the antithetical tension between the two psychoanalytic models. Instead, they believed it was necessarily the case that "Any dialogue between their adherents, although useful in forcing a fuller articulation of the two models, ultimately falls short of a meaningful resolution" (p. 404).

Greenberg and Mitchell did not believe this sort of conversation and its outcome were simply thorny problems is search of solution. Rather, this status quo seemed simply to be how reality is and likely will always be. Inevitably, both sides "think in terms of a set of premises presumed to be fundamental and true and attempt to reconcile old and new ideas, old and new data, in terms of what they already know" (p. 383). The twain may meet, but will not meld. This modus operandi did not seem lamentable, merely how it is in a discourse in which crafty accommodation and radical alternative are, now and forever, likely the only options.

In contrast to their certainty about the incompatibility of the models, Modell (1984), as I noted, believed it might (or, then again, might not) be possible to synthesize the two perspectives. His attitude, in its more affirmative mode, fits mine.

Benjamin's (1998) view of paradox seemed in line with Modell's and my openness to higher level containment and potential synthesis. Splitting, Benjamin believed, is a regrettable breakdown of valuable tension between tendencies. Such disintegration leads to unfortunate adherence to one or the other side of the polarity. In harmony with the comparative-integrative approach, she favored striving to "undo repudiation (p. 6) ... transforming complementarities into dialectical tension, into tolerable paradox, instead of antinomies that compel dangerous choices" (p. 24).

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