Relational Trouble: Reply to Commentaries

Cynthia Dyess, Timothy James Dean

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This reply to the commentaries by Corbett, Hansell, and Stern explores whether Lacan's concept of the real can—or should—be translated into more readily recognizable terms. It extends our previous discussion of impossibility by arguing that not all ideas and experiences can be brought within the realm of the known and familiar. We suggest that impossibilities of meaning should not be understood primarily in phenomenological terms, and we demur from the assessment that our concept of impossibility offers nothing for clinical work. Claiming that what resists meaning also impedes relationality, we encourage relational theorists to address the nonrelational processes that subtend relationality, including the relation between analyst and patient. We acknowledge that the theory of impossibility—or what we now call “negative mediation”—raises a fundamental challenge to relational theory, but we insist that disruptions of relationality need not be considered pathological. Taking into account the nonrelational may enhance rather than impoverish relational psychoanalysis.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)787-794
JournalPsychoanalytic Dialogues
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2000


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