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Moss, D. (2004). Infecting the Treatment: Being an HIV-Positive Analyst. Gilbert Cole. Hillsdale, N.J.: Analytic Press, 2002. 187 pp. $39.95.. Am. Imago, 61(2):233-241.

(2004). American Imago, 61(2):233-241

Book Reviews

Infecting the Treatment: Being an HIV-Positive Analyst. Gilbert Cole. Hillsdale, N.J.: Analytic Press, 2002. 187 pp. $39.95.

Review by:
Donald Moss

Throughout my reading of Gilbert Cole's riveting text, I felt myself in a steady state of shifting experimental identifications, compelled to ask what I, as either patient or analyst, would have wanted to do, and would have done, in predicaments like these. Cole's rhetorical strategy depends upon achieving this kind of complicity—the kind that unites performer and audience. He argues with the combined tools of dramatist and actor and, in his remarkable concluding section, likens psychoanalytic work to method acting.

Although the text is steeped in ideas, Cole as person is ever-present. Cole seems to write with, and through, his body, with the flair of a virtuoso. We not only hear about his disclosures and the thinking and feeling that led to them, but we also, and more importantly, feel ourselves as their recipient. Our relation to Cole seems congruent with his patients'. The sessions, the treatments, seem to extend out from the page. While we might be explicitly only asked to think about disclosure—its theoretical underpinnings, and its clinical impacts—we also, because of Cole's virtuosity, experience disclosure, and some of its effects, coming directly at us.

In this sense, I think, the text “infected,” and thereby influenced, my reading of it. The infection both facilitated and impeded; clarified and distracted. It clarified in the sense that transference clarifies: as personal experience can clarify impersonal idea. And it distracted in the sense that transference distracts: as personal experience can distort impersonal idea.

For me, the foremost impact of Cole's disclosures was my sense that he was confiding in me, inviting me into a zone often kept private. This invitation made it very easy for me to go along with just about everything he was saying. This experience of “going along with,” though, seemed to me quite distinct from full-throated agreement.

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