2021 Biennial Ethics Conference - Radical Openness, Otherness, and Ethical Considerations in the Co-participatory Process of Psychoanalysis

In order for the analyst to listen closely and potentially be moved by the analysand, the analyst must be open, particularly to what is most foreign in the analysand’s discourse, especially in relation to the analysand’s negative experience. In recent writing and presentation, Anton Hart has presented the concept of “radical openness”, a dispositional stance that involves the analyst’s “taking to heart” the things that the analysand experiences and formulates in relation to the analyst, both familiar and strange, with the assumption that they likely carry truth within them. The radically open analyst aspires to take things that do not personally seem to apply and to live with them as potential truths that are beyond the analyst’s tolerable awareness.  

Often, as psychoanalytically oriented psychotherapists, we rely on the concepts of projection and transference, as we attempt to make therapeutic use of the experience of feeling misrecognized. Therapeutic dialogues across the borders of diversity can intensify this dynamic.  An ethical stance based on receptivity and inquiry allows us to become more adept, agile, and capable of bearing the unknown in ourselves, as it emerges in the therapeutic dialogue.  Importantly, Hart argues that this commitment to receptivity and inquiry provides an ethical foundation for psychoanalytic work that requires a more rigorous commitment than externally derived codes of conduct alone.

Proceeding from a hermeneutic-psychoanalytic orientation, Anton Hart explores the ways that an ethic of curiosity and “radical openness” is particularly important when it comes to matters of difference. This presentation will examine both the resistances to, and the necessity for, psychoanalytic engagement—and prioritization—of issues of otherness, difference and diversity. Following an interactive conceptual and clinical presentation, there will be an experiential component in which registrants have an opportunity to apply the concept of radical openness to their work with patients.