The problem of self-disclosure in psychoanalysis.
ABSTRACT The problem of self-disclosure is explored in relation to currently shifting paradigms of the nature of the analytic relation and analytic interaction. Relational and intersubjective perspectives emphasize the role of self-disclosure as not merely allowable, but as an essential facilitating aspect of the analytic dialogue, in keeping with the role of the analyst as a contributing partner in the process. At the opposite extreme, advocates of classical anonymity stress the importance of neutrality and abstinence. The paper seeks to chart a course between unconstrained self-disclosure and absolute anonymity, both of which foster misalliances. Self-disclosure is seen as at times contributory to the analytic process, and at times deleterious. The decision whether to self-disclose, what to disclose, and when and how, should be guided by the analyst's perspective on neutrality, conceived as a mental stance in which the analyst assesses and decides what, at any given point, seems to contribute to the analytic process and the patient's therapeutic benefit. The major risk in self-disclosure is the tendency to draw the analytic interaction into the real relation between analyst and patient, thus diminishing or distorting the therapeutic alliance, mitigating transference expression, and compromising therapeutic effectiveness.