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Pizer, S.A. (2004). Learning from Our Mistakes; Beyond Dogma in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy. Patrick Casement. New York: Guilford, 2002. 144 pp. $26.00.. Am. Imago, 61(4):543-556.

(2004). American Imago, 61(4):543-556

Book Review

Learning from Our Mistakes; Beyond Dogma in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy. Patrick Casement. New York: Guilford, 2002. 144 pp. $26.00.

Review by:
Stuart A. Pizer

Patrick Casement has written a small gem, the condensed perspective of a master meditating about clinical psychoanalysis and psychotherapy. Learning from Our Mistakes joins his earlier books as a contribution toward teaching at all levels, from psychology interns to analytic candidates. Casement's humane and user-friendly set of compass points offers wholesome grounding to trainees and yet also declares a clinical ethos pertinent to the most experienced senior analysts—and, perhaps, an important corrective to decades-old autocratic forms of psychoanalytic “training.” (As James McLaughlin has observed to me in a personal communication, his entire long career could be viewed as a recovery from his training.) True to his subtitle, Casement seeks to carry us “beyond dogma” to the heart of darkness in analytic work, where novel territory lies waiting to be discovered by analyst and patient. At this level, Casement is an eloquent and sure teacher.

This being said, I could not help but read Casement's book, in parallel, at a second level. At this second level, my imagination generates a picture of Casement organizing his thesis, with particular personal poignancy and high seriousness, around his now-famous account of his treatment of Mrs. B., published originally in 1982 and thoughtfully included at the end of this volume as an appendix. While, at the surface of Casement's argument, I find passages that strike me as elaborating, explaining, and even justifying his clinical choices with Mrs. B., the total message and spirit of this book seem to me to constitute a deep and subtle act of tacit reparation.

All of us who write and publish accounts of our own clinical work, along with our theoretical perspective or reflective musings on the analytic process, stand exposed as a “fixed figure for the time of scorn / To point its slow unmoving finger at” (Othello, 4.2.56-57).

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