Psychoanalysis
Resources

 email page    print page

All Topic Reviews
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

Related Pages

Initial Visit

Related Topics
Practical Psychoanalysis for Therapists and PatientsReview - Practical Psychoanalysis for Therapists and Patients
by Owen Renik
Other Press, 2006
Review by Andrew Pollock
Dec 18th 2007 (Volume 11, Issue 51)

Books on psychoanalysis frequently suffer from one of two problems:  they focus on psychoanalytic theory to the exclusion of discussions of practice, or they describe technique without quite evoking the consulting room or the large body of psychoanalytic theory that informs practice.  These two issues reflect the difficulty practicing clinicians often face when trying to make their practices reflect their theoretical understandings, while still leaving room for the art of psychotherapy.  Owen Renik has written a fabulous book that effortlessly manages to reconcile both the theoretical and the clinical strains of psychotherapeutic practice.  Practical Psychoanalysis for Therapists and Clinicians reads as the honest distillation of a long career dedicated to treating patients, and it is filled with humanity, insight, compassion and considered opinions about how to best help people in distress.

Renik's book is simply organized and cogently presented.  It's divided into twenty short chapters, all on topics directly related to clinical practice, e.g. Acting Out and Enactment, The Perils of Neutrality, Phobias; and, each chapter is organized around a patient vignette.  Renik opens each section by discussing the issue he wants to introduce, and then proceeds to the clinical material that illustrates his thinking on the matter.  The chapters close with a brief restatement of Renik's theoretical justifications, tied into his larger argument about what constitutes useful psychotherapy.

The central premise of Renik's refreshingly frank book is that psychoanalysis and psychotherapy cannot claim to be useful to patients unless they actually strive to take patient concerns and desires seriously and at face value.  In his introductory chapters Renik makes clear that his project and his book revolve around providing comprehensive but rapid treatment to patients in mental distress, helping them to improve their lives, and honestly assessing his own approaches and biases at each step of the way in order to facilitate that process.  Renik cautions that in order to be practical, psychoanalysis must maintain a focus on symptom relief, and he reminds us that the birth of Freudian analysis was rooted in this goal.  At the same time, Renik suggests that in order to maintain any claim to scientific validity psychoanalysis cannot reify either techniques or theory, since the definition of a science is its area of focus (in this case the mind) and neither a specific set of its tools nor a particular elaboration of its current understanding. 

It is a testament to the necessity of Renik's book that when he writes about symptoms he feels a justified need to remind readers:  "the analyst can make important contributions [to defining the symptoms to be treated]; but it is the patient whom must have the final word, because clinical analysis doesn't work when a patient is being treated for something the patient doesn't regard as a problem--even if the analyst is convinces that it is a problem."(8)  Renik's premise, supported in each chapter of his book, is that insofar as therapy cannot proceed without the investment of the patient, therapists cannot afford to dismiss patient concerns with theoretical justifications:    "Ordinarily, it's more a matter of soliciting and respecting the patient's input when deciding about frequency of meetings, duration of treatment, and the like, instead of assuming that the analyst knows best about format and that the patient is "resisting" if he or she disagrees."(53)

A major theme of Renik's book, reiterated in almost every chapter and nearly all the clinical vignettes, is that psychotherapy is a collaborative process entered into by both therapist and patient.  Renik suggests that clinicians should share their dilemmas, their concerns, and their thoughts about the treatment, with most of the patients that they treat.  While this may not always be necessary, Renik's clinical descriptions often turn on just such a moment of collaborative sharing between him and his patient.  In this respect, Renik fits the mold of a relational analyst, a clinician whose mode of working is centered around a mutual sharing of the therapeutic encounter.  Renik points out that "a reticent analyst looms large," and that sharing select information about oneself does not preclude the formation of transference, it simply "helps the analyst avoid becoming in the focus of attention.".(58, emphasis in original)  The clinical encounters that he details support his contention, providing many examples in which impasses in treatment are dissolved after he engages in judicious sharing with his patients.

One of the most refreshing aspects of Practical Psychoanalysis for Therapists and Patients is the insistence, throughout the book, that clinicians not lose sight of the theoretical underpinnings of their work.  Renik makes many suggestions for making psychotherapy work better for most patients.  In chapter after chapter he demonstrates his commitment to improving the lives of his patients.  At the same time, Renik grounds his techniques in theoretical justifications, reminding us, for instance, that Freud's impetus at the birth of psychoanalysis was, indeed, symptom relief, or, again, that analytic neutrality does not preclude our wishing that patients improve their lives.  Indeed, this book is valuable precisely because Renik shows how useful psychoanalytic theory, when thought through and integrated into a clinician's practice, truly is.  Renik is not above recasting recent changes in psychoanalytic jargon to remind us of what is at stake when we ignore the rich history of psychoanalytic theory:

"The problem with using the [recently popular] concept of enactment to guide analytic technique is that it assumes that certain interactions between analyst and patient, enactments, express the unconscious motivations of one or the other of the participants, realize their unconscious fantasies, while other interactions[...] do not express unconscious motivations[...]do not realize their unconscious fantasies, or do so to a lesser degree  That assumption is mistaken and misleading.  The truth is that every interaction between analyst and patient expresses the unconscious motivation of, realizes some unconscious fantasy or other of, both participants.  For an analyst to think otherwise is naïve and will lead the analyst to underestimate his or her personal participation in clinical work."(91)

Owen Renik has written a useful and timely book about psychotherapy.  Without sacrificing theoretical rigor, he uses a series of clinical vignettes to discuss technique and therapeutic process.  Most importantly, he uses his book to argue that a focus on symptom relief for patients is not only essential, but the only ethical grounding for any psychoanalysis that seeks to promote itself as therapeutic.

 

© 2007 Andrew Pollock

 

Andrew Pollock is a psychotherapist practicing in Baltimore, and a Director of the Baltimore Psychotherapy Institute.

 

 

Comment on this review


Share

Welcome to MHN's unique book review site Metapsychology. We feature over 7900 in-depth reviews of a wide range of books and DVDs written by our reviewers from many backgrounds and perspectives. We update our front page weekly and add more than thirty new reviews each month. Our editor is Christian Perring, PhD. To contact him, use one of the forms available here.

Can't remember our URL? Access our reviews directly via 'metapsychology.net'


Metapsychology Online reviewers normally receive gratis review copies of the items they review.
Metapsychology Online receives a commission from Amazon.com for purchases through this site, which helps us send review copies to reviewers. Please support us by making your Amazon.com purchases through our Amazon links. We thank you for your support!


Join our e-mail list!: Metapsychology New Review Announcements: Sent out monthly, these announcements list our recent reviews. To subscribe, click here.

Interested in becoming a book reviewer for Metapsychology? Currently, we especially need thoughtful reviewers for books in fiction, self-help and popular psychology. To apply, write to our editor.

Metapsychology Online Reviews

Promote your Page too

Metapsychology Online Reviews
ISSN 1931-5716