Psychoanalysis
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A Basic Theory of NeuropsychoanalysisA Cursing Brain?A Dream of Undying FameA Map of the MindAfter LacanAgainst AdaptationAgainst FreudAn Anatomy of AddictionAnalytic FreudAndré Green at the Squiggle FoundationAnger, Madness, and the DaimonicAnna FreudAnna Freud: A BiographyApproaching PsychoanalysisAttachment and PsychoanalysisBadiouBecoming a SubjectBefore ForgivingBerlin PsychoanalyticBetween Emotion and CognitionBeyond GenderBeyond SexualityBeyond the Pleasure PrincipleBiology of FreedomBoundaries and Boundary Violations in PsychoanalysisBuilding on BionCare of the PsycheCarl JungCassandra's DaughterCherishmentConfusion of TonguesContemporary Psychoanalysis and the Legacy of the Third ReichCrucial Choices, Crucial ChangesCulture and Conflict in Child and Adolescent Mental HealthDarwin's WormsDesert Islands and Other Texts (1953-1974)Dispatches from the Freud WarsDoes the Woman Exist?Doing Psychoanalysis in TehranDreaming and Other Involuntary MentationDreaming by the BookEnergy Psychology InteractiveEqualsErrant SelvesEthics and the Discovery of the UnconsciousEthics Case Book of the American Psychoanalytic AssociationFairbairn's Object Relations Theory in the Clinical SettingFed with Tears -- Poisoned with MilkFeminism and Its DiscontentsForms of Intersubjectivity in Infant Reasearch and Adult TreatmentFour Lessons of PsychoanalysisFratricide in the Holy LandFreudFreudFreudFreudFreudFreudFreud and the Question of PseudoscienceFreud As PhilosopherFreud at 150Freud's AnswerFreud's WizardFreud, the Reluctant PhilosopherFrom Classical to Contemporary PsychoanalysisFundamentals of Psychoanalytic TechniqueGenes on the CouchGoing SaneHans BellmerHappiness, Death, and the Remainder of LifeHate and Love in Psychoanalytical InstitutionsHatred and ForgivenessHealing the Soul in the Age of the BrainHeinz KohutHeinz KohutHidden MindsHistory of ShitHope and Dread in PsychoanalysisImagination and Its PathologiesImagine There's No WomanIn Freud's TracksIn SessionIn the Floyd ArchivesIntimaciesIntimate RevoltIrrationalityIs Oedipus Online?Jacques LacanJacques Lacan and the Freudian Practice of PsychoanalysisJung and the Making of Modern PsychologyJung Stripped BareKilling FreudLacanLacanLacanLacan and Contemporary FilmLacan at the SceneLacan For BeginnersLacan in AmericaLacan TodayLacan's Seminar on AnxietyLawLearning from Our MistakesLove's ExecutionerMad Men and MedusasMale Female EmailMelanie KleinMemoirs of My Nervous IllnessMental SlaveryMind to MindMixing MindsMoral StealthMourning and ModernityMovies and the MindMurder in ByzantiumNew Studies of Old VillainsNocturnesNoir AnxietyOn Being Normal and Other DisordersOn BeliefOn IncestOn Not Being Able to SleepOn the Freud WatchOn the Way HomeOpen MindedOpera's Second DeathOvercoming Destructive Beliefs, Feelings, and BehaviorsPhenomology & Lacan on Schizophrenia, After the Decade of the BrainPhilosophical Counselling and the UnconsciousPractical Psychoanalysis for Therapists and PatientsPsychiatry, Psychoanalysis, And The New Biology Of MindPsychoanalysisPsychoanalysis and Narrative MedicinePsychoanalysis and NeurosciencePsychoanalysis and the Philosophy of SciencePsychoanalysis as Biological SciencePsychoanalysis at the MarginsPsychoanalysis at the MarginsPsychoanalysis in a New LightPsychoanalysis in FocusPsychology, Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis, and the Politics of Human RelationshipsPsychotherapy As PraxisPutnam CampQuestions for FreudRe-Inventing the SymptomReading Seminar XXReinventing the SoulRelational Theory and the Practice of PsychotherapyRelationalityRepressed SpacesRevolt, She SaidSecrets of the SoulSerious ShoppingSex on the CouchSexuationSigmund FreudSoul Murder RevisitedSpectral EvidenceSpirit, Mind, and BrainStrangers to OurselvesSubjective Experience and the Logic of the OtherSubjectivity and OthernessSubstance Abuse As SymptomSurrealist Painters and PoetsTaboo SubjectsTalk is Not EnoughThe Art of the SubjectThe Brain and the Inner WorldThe Brain, the Mind and the SelfThe Cambridge Companion to LacanThe Challenge for Psychoanalysis and PsychotherapyThe Clinical LacanThe Colonization Of Psychic SpaceThe Condition of MadnessThe Couch and the TreeThe Cruelty of DepressionThe Dissociative Mind in PsychoanalysisThe Dreams of InterpretationThe Examined LifeThe Fall Of An IconThe Freud EncyclopediaThe Freud FilesThe Freud WarsThe Fright of Real TearsThe Future of PsychoanalysisThe Gift of TherapyThe Heart & Soul of ChangeThe Knotted SubjectThe Last Good FreudianThe Letters of Sigmund Freud and Otto RankThe Mind According to ShakespeareThe Mystery of PersonalityThe Mythological UnconsciousThe Neuropsychology of the UnconsciousThe New PsychoanalysisThe Power of FeelingsThe Psychoanalytic MovementThe Psychoanalytic MysticThe Psychoanalytic Study of the ChildThe Psychoanalytic Study of the ChildThe Psychodynamics of Gender and Gender RoleThe Puppet and the DwarfThe Real World Guide to Psychotherapy PracticeThe Revolt of the PrimitiveThe Seminar of Moustafa SafouanThe Sense and Non-Sense of RevoltThe Shortest ShadowThe Social History of the UnconsciousThe Surface EffectThe Symmetry of GodThe Tragedy of the SelfThe Trainings of the PsychoanalystThe UnsayableThe World of PerversionTherapeutic ActionTherapy's DelusionsThis Incredible Need to BelieveThoughts Without A ThinkerTo Redeem One Person Is to Redeem the WorldTrauma and Human ExistenceTraumatizing TheoryUmbr(a)Unconscious knowing and other essays in psycho-philosophical analysisUnderstanding Dissidence and Controversy in the History of PsychoanalysisUnderstanding PsychoanalysisUnfree AssociationsWalking HeadsWay Beyond FreudWhat Does a Woman Want?What Freud Really MeantWhen the Body SpeaksWhere Do We Fall When We Fall in Love?Whose Freud?Why Psychoanalysis?Wilhelm ReichWinnicottWinnicott On the ChildWisdom Won from IllnessWittgenstein on Freud and FrazerWittgenstein Reads FreudWorld, Affectivity, TraumaZizek

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The Gift of TherapyReview - The Gift of Therapy
An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients
by Irvin D. Yalom
Harperperennial, 2001
Review by Heather C. Liston
May 23rd 2002 (Volume 6, Issue 21)

            For the general reader interested in psychotherapy, there is no more interesting writer than Irvin D. Yalom.  The author of eleven previous books, one of which (When Nietzsche Wept) is actually a novel, Yalom is a psychiatrist and practicing therapist who also happens to be a gifted storyteller.

            His newest book, The Gift of Therapy carries the subtitle “An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients,” and it consists of eighty-five very short essays on what he has learned in thirty-five years in practice.  He brings to his work as a writer the power of experience—as a therapist, and also as a patient.  He himself has been through Freudian analysis, gestalt therapy, Rolfing, marital-couples work, support groups, and even—in the 1960’s—a nude encounter group, and he has studied and worked with some of the great names in the history of his field (Rollo May, Eric Erickson, and others).  There seems to be no sort of patient he has not encountered and no question about the process of therapy with which has not personally struggled.

In fact, speaking of experience, one of the best parts of the book is the dedication: “To Marilyn, soulmate for over fifty years and still counting.”  The author’s wife, Marilyn Yalom, Ph.D., is the senior scholar at the Institute for Research on Women and Gender at Stanford University and, like Yalom, a writer both serious and popular. This tribute to an extraordinarily long relationship between two professionally successful people is as powerful an argument for effective therapy and self-examination as anything else in the book.

            In these eighty-five chapters of one to three pages each, Yalom offers manageable bits of advice, embedded with intriguing stories of real patients.  Some of his suggestions seem almost obvious (“Therapists must be aware of their own dark side and be able to empathize with all human wishes and impulses.”) and some are more startling (“I make it a point to touch each patient each hour . . .) but all are thought-provoking.  Admitting at all times that therapists are human too, he rejects the “blank slate” school of therapy that says the doctor should reveal nothing of himself so as to be available for pure transference.  Of course the therapist is a real person with a life and feelings of his own, says Yalom, and it is not only OK to reveal that, it is therapeutic for the patient.  In fact, “Therapist disclosure begets patient disclosure.”  He offers thoughts on coping with sexual attraction to patients, and ways of dealing with your feelings about patients who repulse or annoy you.

            There is a welcome lack of orthodoxy in Yalom’s work.  He seems open to a variety of methods, applied with the individual patient and situation in mind: “the task of experience therapists [is to] establish a relationship with the patient characterized by genuineness, positive unconditional regard, and spontaneity.”  Therefore, he says, “the therapist must strive to create a new therapy for each patient.” How to do that is much of the content of this book: how to listen; how to empathize; how to provide useful feedback without upsetting your patient; how to upset the patient when appropriate so as to provoke her to new insights and difficult growth.

            The Gift of Therapy is a quick read.  You can zip through it all in one sitting, or digest each pithy, self-contained essay one at a time, while sitting in your therapist’s waiting room.  If you do, you will almost certainly get some good ideas about what to discuss with her when you go in, and how to do it.

 

© 2002 Heather C. Liston

Heather C. Liston studied Religion at Princeton University and earned a Masters degree from the NYU Graduate School of Business Administration. She is the Director of Development for The Santa Fe Children's Museum, and writes extensively on a variety of topics. Her book reviews and other work have appeared in Self, Women Outside, The Princeton Alumni Weekly, Appalachia, Your Health and elsewhere.


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