What is novel about interpersonal defense theory and why those differences make a difference: Taking conflict seriously in a process model of problematic interpersonal phenomena.

Wachtel’s (2018) wide ranging and thoughtful commentary on my article on interpersonal defense theory (Westerman, 2018a) provides me with an excellent opportunity for clarifying and highlighting many of the key points I presented. In this reply, I respond to his questions by focusing on three themes: clarifying the participatory perspective and how it contributes to interpersonal defense theory, highlighting the ways in which interpersonal defense theory takes the concept of conflict seriously, and explaining how the theory offers a process model of the phenomena it considers. With a focus on these themes, I devote a good deal of attention to what is perhaps the main issue Wachtel raised, which concerns what is novel about interpersonal defense theory and whether and how those differences make a difference for clinical practice. I also respond to a number of other questions he raised both for their own sake and in order to address the issue about novelty. Some of these other questions include how and why my ideas about patterns of recurring coordination failures depart from the mainstream; why the theory focuses on a person’s central wish and central fear notwithstanding the multiplicity of wishes and fears; and whether and, if so, how the theory includes subjective experience. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)