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Stavropoulos, P. (2018). The Way We Are: How States of Mind Influence Our Identities, Personality and Potential for Change (2016) by Frank W. Putnam, published by International Psychoanalytic Books (IP Books). Att: New Dir. in Psychother. Relat. Psychoanal., 12(1):90-94.

(2018). Attachment: New Directions in Psychotherapy and Relational Psychoanalysis, 12(1):90-94

The Way We Are: How States of Mind Influence Our Identities, Personality and Potential for Change (2016) by Frank W. Putnam, published by International Psychoanalytic Books (IP Books)1

Review by:
Pam Stavropoulos, Ph.D.

In an age of hyperbole and incessant demands on our attention, recommendation of a “must read” book can seem an imposition as well as a cliché. Yet I do not hesitate to make that endorsement in this case. Frank Putnam's The Way We Are is not only his magnum opus after years of service to the field of psychotherapy in general, and study of the dissociative disorders in particular. It is also a ground-breaking work that proposes what amounts to nothing less than a paradigm shift in the way we conceptualise and respond to the workings of the mind per se.

Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina and Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics at Cincinnati Children's Hospital, Putnam is best known for his pioneering 1989 text on diagnosis and treatment of what was then called multiple personality disorder (now dissociative identity disorder (DID)). He avowedly wrote this text following “daily phone calls” from therapists seeking assistance for the manifold challenges of treating this disorder, and from “repeating the same information over and over again, typically three to four times a week and often three to four times a day” (Putnam, 1989, p. vii).

It is fitting, then, that his ground-breaking text of over a quarter of a century later conceptualises DID as “an extreme example that allows us to see more deeply into the state nature of personality” we all share (p. 159). In a reading of the psyche which is as democratic as it is path-breaking, Putnam concedes that “[w]e are all multiple to some degree or another” (p. 121).

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the article. PEP-Web provides full-text search of the complete articles for current and archive content, but only the abstracts are displayed for current content, due to contractual obligations with the journal publishers. For details on how to read the full text of 2016 and more current articles see the publishers official website.]

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