chapter  2
19 Pages

Behind the “Seens”: The Inner Experience of at Least One Psychoanalyst (1987)

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary denes experience as the “direct observation of or participation in events as a basis of knowledge,” and as “the fact or state of having been aected by or gained knowledge through direct observation or participation.” e word experience, like experiment, derives from the Latin meaning “to try” or “to test out.” Because in testing things out one is aected by the trying, the word took on the meaning of “feeling,” “suering,” or “undergoing.” e dictionary denition repeatedly refers to the duality of direct observation and participation, and so is strikingly evocative of Sullivan’s (1940) methodological emphasis on participant observation. Sabe, rooted in the interpersonal tradition with an existential accent, consistently puts his emphasis on sticking with immediate experience,

the experience one gains by trying, struggling to engage the other, testing out that engagement, suering with the other, and so proceeding not through the linear application of theory or metapsychology but through the trial and error of direct observation and participation. And here, speaking of suering brings to mind the root meaning of the word patient. We might note that Sabe talks about working not with patients but with people, with others-this man, that woman. Referring to patients smacks of too much hierarchy for Sabe, and here one sees the greater symmetry in his existential approach where the analyst tries, suers, elaborates, feels, plays, and free-associates.