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Lester, E.P. (1997). A Thing Apart: Love And Reality In The Therapeutic Relationship. By Irving Steingart. Northvale, NJ: Aronson, 1993, xxvi + 291 pp., $40.00. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 45:271-274.

(1997). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 45:271-274

A Thing Apart: Love And Reality In The Therapeutic Relationship. By Irving Steingart. Northvale, NJ: Aronson, 1993, xxvi + 291 pp., $40.00

Review by:
Eva P. Lester

In this slim and densely written book, Steingart looks at the nature of the psychoanalytic relationship and the motivating and healing force of the love between analyst and analysand. A Thing Apart is indeed about a relationship that fascinates and puzzles and that continues to invite serious scholarship. In his careful analysis of recently argued positions—Schafer's narrativist, hermeneutic position, Hoffman's social constructivism, and Levenson's relational stance—the author reaffirms basic Freudian postulates. His broad knowledge of Freudian texts permits frequent and detailed quoting, one of the book's great strengths. He deals with equal confidence with the literature after Freud.

In this preface Steingart explains that he wrote this book as “his best effort” at understanding what a psychoanalytic relationship is, and why he himself loves doing psychoanalysis. He begins by questioning the nature of reality in the analytic situation. With the term real, the author commits himself to a type of philosophical realism or realist ontology: “A correspondence concept of truth goes along with the philosophy of realism. That is, the truth of our beliefs about reality consists not in the way the beliefs fit together but in their corresponding to an actual independent state of affairs” (p. 1). Steingart repeatedly asserts that psychoanalysis as a clinical practice rests firmly on such a philosophy. He deals with the implications of this position when he argues against the view, recently supported by a number of analysts, that only an antiobjectivist philosophy is “coherent” with psychoanalytic inquiry and its subject matter.

At several points the author reminds his readers that, though he writes from the perspective of a Freudian analyst, the epithet is used not to distinguish himself from Kleinians or Lacanians but to underline his adherence to Freudian precepts distinct from those of analysts in the relational, Sullivanian schools.

The book comprises seven chapters. The first, “Reality and Truth in the Analytic Relationship,” introduces the main argument and outlines the realist ontology underlying the analytic relationship.

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