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Buckley, P. (1997). Close Encounters: A Relational View Of The Therapeutic Process. By Robert Winer. Northvale, NJ: Aronson, 1994, 296 pp., $35.00.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 45:584-585.

(1997). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 45:584-585

Close Encounters: A Relational View Of The Therapeutic Process. By Robert Winer. Northvale, NJ: Aronson, 1994, 296 pp., $35.00.

Review by:
Peter Buckley

In Robert Winer's book we find the personal intellectual and emotional odyssey of a psychotherapist. Winer exposes his struggles with clinical work, with theory and his own professional evolution. He states that “the therapist, like the artist, must invent himself” (p. 10), a credo that would have found favor with the romantics. He is refreshingly candid about his eclectic endeavors to create a workable theoretical synthesis for his clinical work. Ultimately, this is a relational model, one in which the clinical situation is a “complex field in which both parties are thinking and reacting, and where the flow of influence is Byzantine. Each will influence the other with his ideas, his moods, his transferences, his countertransferences, his character style. Their shared gravitational field will draw certain issues in and spin others off. Both participants are wrestling with themselves and acting upon each other in ways that are both within and beyond their ken” (p. 9).

Winer acknowledges his debt to Loewald (1979), who suggests that we are less individual than we realize. Are we, he asks, “justified in simply equating the psychic life with the intrapsychic?” (p. 399). Loewald (1960), in his innovative paper “On the Therapeutic Action of Psychoanalysis,” posited that therapeutic effects are a result of ego development resuming in therapy as a consequence of the relationship with a new object. This ego development, in his view, is due to the internalization of an interaction process between patient and therapist, a position not too dissimilar from that of Kohut, another of Winer's prime influences.

Winer, through his self-revelations, engages the reader in a dialectical encounter somewhat similar to that he proposes as the essence of therapy.

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