Psychotherapy
Resources

 email page    print page

All Topic Reviews
Maximizing Effectiveness in Dynamic Psychotherapy Self-Compassion in Psychotherapy101 Healing StoriesA Clinician's Guide to Legal Issues in PsychotherapyA Map of the MindA Primer for Beginning PsychotherapyACT With LoveActive Treatment of DepressionAffect Regulation, Mentalization, and the Development of SelfAlready FreeBad TherapyBecoming an Effective PsychotherapistBefore ForgivingBeing a Brain-Wise TherapistBetrayed as BoysBeyond Evidence-Based PsychotherapyBeyond MadnessBeyond PostmodernismBinge No MoreBiofeedback for the BrainBipolar DisorderBody PsychotherapyBoundaries and Boundary Violations in PsychoanalysisBrain Change TherapyBrain Science and Psychological DisordersBrain-Based Therapy with AdultsBrain-Based Therapy with Children and AdolescentsBrief Adolescent Therapy Homework PlannerBrief Child Therapy Homework PlannerBrief Therapy Homework PlannerBuffy the Vampire Slayer and PhilosophyBuilding on BionCare of the PsycheCase Studies in DepressionCaught in the NetChild and Adolescent Treatment for Social Work PracticeChoosing an Online TherapistChronic DepressionClinical Dilemmas in PsychotherapyClinical Handbook of Psychological DisordersClinical Intuition in PsychotherapyClinical Pearls of WisdomCo-Creating ChangeCognitive Therapy for Challenging ProblemsCompassionConfessions of a Former ChildConfidential RelationshipsConfidentiality and Mental HealthConfidingContemplative Psychotherapy EssentialsControlConversations About Psychology and Sexual OrientationCoping with BPDCouch FictionCounseling in GenderlandCounseling with Choice TheoryCouple SkillsCrazy for YouCreating a Life of Meaning and CompassionCreating HysteriaCritical Issues in PsychotherapyCrucial Choices, Crucial ChangesDeafness In MindDecoding the Ethics CodeDeconstructing PsychotherapyDeep Brain StimulationDemystifying TherapyDepression 101Depression in ContextDialogues on DifferenceDissociative ChildrenDo-It-Yourself Eye Movement Techniques for Emotional HealingDoing CBTE-TherapyEarly WarningEncountering the Sacred in PsychotherapyEnergy Psychology InteractiveErrant SelvesEssays on Philosophical CounselingEssentials of Wais-III AssessmentEthically Challenged ProfessionsEthics and Values in PsychotherapyEthics in Plain EnglishEthics in Psychotherapy and CounselingExpectationExploring the Self through PhotographyExpressing EmotionFacing Human SufferingFairbairn's Object Relations Theory in the Clinical SettingFamily TherapyFavorite Counseling and Therapy Homework AssignmentsFear of IntimacyFlourishingFolie a DeuxForms of Intersubjectivity in Infant Reasearch and Adult TreatmentFoundations of Ethical Practice, Research, and Teaching in PsychologyFreud and the Question of PseudoscienceFrom Morality to Mental HealthFundamentals of Psychoanalytic TechniqueGenes on the CouchGod & TherapyHalf Empty, Half FullHandbook of Clinical Psychopharmacology for TherapistsHandbook of Counseling and Psychotherapy with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual ClientsHandbook of Evidence-Based Therapies for Children and AdolescentsHealing the Heart and Mind with MindfulnessHeinz KohutHelping Children Cope With Disasters and TerrorismHigh RiskHistory of PsychotherapyHow Clients Make Therapy WorkHow Psychotherapists DevelopHow to Fail As a TherapistHow to Go to TherapyHypnosis for Inner Conflict ResolutionHypnosis for Smoking CessationI Never Promised You a Rose GardenIf Only I Had KnownIn Others' EyesIn SessionIn Therapy We TrustIn Treatment: Season 1Incorporating Spirituality in Counseling and PsychotherapyInside the SessionInside TherapyIs Long-Term Therapy Unethical?Issues in Philosophical CounselingIt's Not as Bad as It SeemsItís Your HourLearning from Our MistakesLearning Supportive PsychotherapyLetters to a Young TherapistLife CoachingLogotherapy and Existential AnalysisLove's ExecutionerMadness and DemocracyMaking the Big LeapMan's Search for MeaningMetaphoria: Metaphor and Guided Metaphor for Psychotherapy and HealingMind GamesMindfulness and AcceptanceMindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for DepressionMindworks: An Introduction to NLPMockingbird YearsMoments of EngagementMomma and the Meaning of LifeMotivational Interviewing: Preparing People For ChangeMulticulturalism and the Therapeutic ProcessMultifamily Groups in the Treatment of Severe Psychiatric DisordersNarrative PracticeOn the CouchOne Nation Under TherapyOur Inner WorldOur Last Great IllusionOutsider ArtOvercoming Destructive Beliefs, Feelings, and BehaviorsOverexposedPathways to SpiritualityPersonality and PsychotherapyPhilosophical CounselingPhilosophical Counselling and the UnconsciousPhilosophical Issues in Counseling and PsychotherapyPhilosophical PracticePhilosophy and PsychotherapyPhilosophy for Counselling and PsychotherapyPhilosophy PracticePhilosophy's Role in Counseling and PsychotherapyPillar of SaltPlan BPlato, Not Prozac!Polarities of ExperiencesPower GamesPractical Psychoanalysis for Therapists and PatientsPrinciples and Practice of Sex TherapyPsychologists Defying the CrowdPsychology, Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis, and the Politics of Human RelationshipsPsychosis in the FamilyPsychotherapyPsychotherapyPsychotherapy and ConfidentialityPsychotherapy As PraxisPsychotherapy for Children and AdolescentsPsychotherapy for Personality DisordersPsychotherapy Is Worth ItPsychotherapy Isn't What You ThinkPsychotherapy with Adolescent Girls and Young WomenPsychotherapy with Children and AdolescentsPsychotherapy without the SelfPsychotherapy, American Culture, and Social PolicyRapid Cognitive TherapyRational Emotive Behavior TherapyRational Emotive Behavior TherapyRationality and the Pursuit of HappinessRebuilding Shattered LivesReclaiming Our ChildrenRecovery OptionsRelationalityRent Two Films and Let's Talk in the MorningSaving the Modern SoulScience and Pseudoscience in Clinical PsychologySecond-order Change in PsychotherapySelf-Compassion in PsychotherapySelf-Determination Theory in the ClinicSelf-Disclosure in Psychotherapy and RecoverySerious ShoppingSex, Therapy, and KidsSexual Orientation and Psychodynamic PsychotherapySigns of SafetySoul Murder RevisitedStaring at the SunStraight to JesusStrangers to OurselvesSubjective Experience and the Logic of the OtherTaking America Off DrugsTales of PsychotherapyTales of UnknowingTalk is Not EnoughTalking Cures and Placebo EffectsTelling SecretsThe Behavioral Medicine Treatment PlannerThe Body in PsychotherapyThe Brief Couples Therapy Homework Planner with DiskThe Case Formulation Approach to Cognitive-Behavior TherapyThe Challenge for Psychoanalysis and PsychotherapyThe Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe Clinical Child Documentation SourcebookThe Clinical Documentation SourcebookThe Complete Adult Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe Couch and the TreeThe Couples Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe Crucible of ExperienceThe Cure of SoulsThe Death of PsychotherapyThe Education of Mrs. BemisThe Ethical Treatment of DepressionThe Ethics of PsychoanalysisThe Gay and Lesbian Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe Gift of TherapyThe Great Psychotherapy Debate: The Evidence for What Makes Psychotherapy Work The Healing JourneyThe Heart & Soul of ChangeThe Heroic ClientThe Husbands and Wives ClubThe Love CureThe Making of a TherapistThe Mindful TherapistThe Mirror Crack'dThe Mummy at the Dining Room TableThe Neuroscience of PsychotherapyThe Neuroscience of Psychotherapy: Healing the Social BrainThe New Rational TherapyThe Older Adult Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe Other Side of DesireThe Pastoral Counseling Treatment PlannerThe Philosopher's Autobiography The Pornographer's GriefThe Portable CoachThe Portable Ethicist for Mental Health Professionals The Present Moment in Psychotherapy and Everyday LifeThe Problem of EvilThe Problem with Cognitive Behavioural TherapyThe Psychodynamics of Gender and Gender RoleThe Psychotherapy Documentation PrimerThe Psychotherapy Documentation PrimerThe Psychotherapy of HopeThe Real World Guide to Psychotherapy PracticeThe Schopenhauer CureThe Sex Lives of TeenagersThe Talking CureThe Therapeutic "Aha!"The Therapist's Guide to PsychopharmacologyThe Therapist's Guide to Psychopharmacology, Revised EditionThe Therapist's Ultimate Solution BookThe Trauma of Everyday LifeThe UnsayableThe Way of the JournalTheory and Practice of Brief TherapyTherapy with ChildrenTherapy's DelusionsTheraScribe 3.0 for WindowsTheraScribe 4.0Thinking about ThinkingThinking for CliniciansThinking for CliniciansThoughts Without a ThinkerThriveToward a Psychology of AwakeningTracking Mental Health OutcomesTrauma, Truth and ReconciliationTreating Attachment DisordersTreatment for Chronic DepressionTreatment Plans and Interventions for Depression and Anxiety DisordersUnderstanding Child MolestersUnspeakable Truths and Happy EndingsWhat the Buddha FeltWhat Works for Whom?What Works for Whom? Second EditionWhen the Body SpeaksWhispers from the EastWise TherapyWittgenstein and PsychotherapyWorking MindsWoulda, Coulda, ShouldaWriting About PatientsYoga Skills for Therapists:Yoga Therapy

Related Topics
Fundamentals of Psychoanalytic TechniqueReview - Fundamentals of Psychoanalytic Technique
A Lacanian Approach for Practitioners
by Bruce Fink
W. W. Norton, 2007
Review by Andrew Pollock
Jan 8th 2008 (Volume 12, Issue 2)

Jacques Lacan's theory has had a surprisingly limited affect on American psychoanalytic thought, and almost no noticeable affect on how analysis is conducted in the United States.  Lacan himself was openly contemptuous of American interpretations of Freud, and made pointed comments about the failings he saw in Ego Psychology, in particular.  Even now, 26 years after his death, the ascendance of Relational psychoanalysis in America is strictly incompatible with Lacan's articulated understanding of what occurs during analysis.  The result is that in America, Lacan is more often read in university literature courses than he is taught in therapeutic training programs, and American therapists have, for the most part, not had the benefit of engaging with his rich and varied contributions.

Bruce Fink's new book, Fundamentals of Psychoanalytic Technique:  A Lacanian Approach for Practitioners, goes a long way toward providing the kind of systematic introduction to Lacanian technique that is sorely needed in the United States. Fink's book also manages to ground an introduction of Lacan's theory in rich descriptions of the analytic encounter.  Along with Fink's earlier A Clinical Introduction to Lacanian Psychoanalysis, and his recent new translations of Lacan's seminal Ecrits, Fink's project redresses the unbalanced focus on a theoretical version of Lacan in America today.

The primary strength of Fink's book is in his systematic examination of the major technical areas important to Lacanian analysts.  He devotes chapters to listening, asking questions, interpreting and working with dreams, daydreams and fantasies, among other subjects.  He does not shy away from discussing what is perhaps the single most controversial (and misunderstood) aspect of Lacanian technique, scanding, or the variable-length session.  He presents a cogent and thorough explanation for why variable-length sessions (by no means necessarily shortened sessions) can be an important part of moving analytic work forward.  His clinical illustration of scanding, demonstrates using the practice to punctuate the most important (and avoided) material presented by a particular patient, and successfully removes the practice from a theoretical heresy about an analytic commandment (the fifty-minute hour) to a considered analytic technique.  Even for those not convinced by his argument, his chapter on scanding should go a long way toward promoting debate on the matter, while hopefully ameliorating the most outraged responses to its mere mention.

Fink's chapters on Listening and Hearing, Asking Questions, and Interpreting, should be required reading for all beginning therapists.  He manages to both be systematic, specific and practical in his recommendations, while maintaining room for the art that is good therapeutic technique.  Fink reminds us that analytic listening, indeed, all analytic activities, are removed from their more prosaic counterparts.  As Fink points out at the very start of his book, we all too often overlook what about a particular story or experience makes it unique, instead assimilating it to familiar stories which we already know.  This is dangerous and irresponsible when we practice therapy.  Fink uses his chapter on listening to reassert the importance of paying attention to slips of the tongue, and other mis-speaking, in order to observe the small eruptions of the unconscious that occur during every session.  He even provides very practical advice for how to do this for those who claim that people rarely make such slips:  listen to the news.  "One useful exercise is to listen to news announcers, whether on the radio or television, and practice listening for slips and stumblings as opposed to listening for content.  It is perhaps best to listen first to programs that one is not especially interested in, so that the content does not monopolize one's attention[...]Once one is able to regularly hear the slips and slurs in speech about matters that are of not much interest, one can then turn to programs that are closer to one's own heart..."(21)  His chapters on questions and interpretations are similarly pointed, and very good.  In particular, he takes care when discussing interpretations to highlight the importance of crafting interpretations that are pointed enough, and yet also polyvalent enough, that they elicit further analytic material from the analysand.  Starting from Freud's work in "Constructions in Analysis," Fink persuasively argues that empathic therapist reactions foreclose a whole range of reactions from analysand's, and, paradoxically, operate by denying the analysand's experience rather than acknowledging it.

The central chapter of Fink's book is on handling transference and countertransference.  Fink views transference globally, pointing out that while the analytic situation is designed to elicit transference, the nature of the repetition at play in transference suggests that patients experience similar patterns in other situations as well.  At the same time, he practically points out that not all reactions an analysand has to her therapist, or actions she takes that have an affect on her therapy, are likely to be motivated by transference, since any relationship as long-lasting and time-consuming as analysis is likely to result in concrete situations about which anyone is likely to have an opinion.  Fink artfully discusses the dangers of interpreting transference, especially by attempting to replace "faulty" transferential fantasies about the analyst with a more "realistic" understanding.  Fink argues that the notion that there is a rational, "observing ego" available in patients to understand such interpretations is suspect, illustrating that patients hear these interpretations precisely from the transferential position that they are supposed to affect.  Overall, his position is that transference is something to be handled and endured by the therapist, and that allowing the transference to proceed without undue interference or anxiety on the part of the analyst is the most therapeutically beneficial choice.

This is a rich and complex book, which cannot be adequately addressed in such a short review.  Fink's book is partly treatment manual, partly theoretical exegesis, and partly corrective polemic, focused on the different understandings of the purpose and best outcomes of psychoanalysis between American and Lacanian analysis.  Fink's chapter on "Non-normalizing Analysis" is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding how Lacanians view the relationship between psychoanalysis and mental health.  Fink highlights the points at which American analysis assumes and promotes a normality that is often in the service of flattening the vicissitudes of psychic life.  His short sections on "inappropriate affect" and "reality-testing," do a fabulous job of making manifest the questionable therapeutic utility of these concepts.

Bruce Fink has written a wonderful and necessary book about Lacanian analytic technique.  It is closely argued, rich in content, and it is clearly a book that either beginning therapists or more experienced clinicians will benefit from reading.

© 2008 Andrew Pollock

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


Share

Welcome to MHN's unique book review site Metapsychology. We feature over 7800 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