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Perman, G.P. (2009). The Future of Psychoanalysis, Richard D. Chessick, State University of New York Press, Albany, NY, 2007, 265pp.. Am. J. Psychoanal., 69(2):170-173.

(2009). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 69(2):170-173

Book Reviews

The Future of Psychoanalysis, Richard D. Chessick, State University of New York Press, Albany, NY, 2007, 265pp.

Review by:
Gerald P. Perman, M.D.

Richard Chessick has written widely on many topics including psychoanalytic theory and technique, philosophical ideas as applied to the human condition, and creativity. In The Future of Psychoanalysis he combines all of these to help guide psychoanalysis out of the dark forest in which he believes it finds itself. He identifies himself with Dante's guides in the Divine Comedy and relies on Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, as well as a host of more recent philosophers, to help him make his case.

Chessick largely attributes the current decline of psychoanalysis to the hostile environment in which it finds itself including the non-analytic community that is now running departments of psychiatry, the pervasive influence of the pharmaceutical industry, and the egregiously harmful effects of Managed Care. In the face of this environment, “although a small group of psychoanalysts remained traditional in the sense that they still based their work on Freud and Anna Freud's principles of ego psychology…many psychoanalysts rode off madly in all directions” (xii). Here he includes the neuropsychoanalysts, the intersubjectivists, Kleinians, Lacanians, and Kohutians. He writes that these trends developed out of a need to earn a living, because it is easier to emphasize the here-and-now relationship, and because of a failure of nerve. Just as Freud told Jung on his voyage to present the Clark lectures that he was “bringing the plague to America,” Richard Chessick would like to “make life harder” for psychoanalysts by returning to the basic tenets of Freud and once again give precedence to the childhood antecedents of current behavior and thinking, unconscious fantasy life, internalized object relationships, the repetition compulsion, free association, dream interpretation, and analysis of the transference.

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