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Gabbard, G.O. (1998). The Analyst's Preconscious. By Victoria Hamilton. Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press, 1996, 366 pp., $47.50. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 46(2):583-586.

(1998). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 46(2):583-586


The Analyst's Preconscious. By Victoria Hamilton. Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press, 1996, 366 pp., $47.50

Review by:
Glen O. Gabbard

The manner in which psychoanalysts actually use theory while sitting behind the couch is one of the murkiest areas in our field. Explicating the link between theory and the analyst's interventions was formidable enough when American psychoanalysis was a largely monolithic enterprise. As we approach the end of the millennium, and analysts find themselves practicing in a highly pluralistic psychoanalytic universe, the task is even more challenging. In this landmark work, Victoria Hamilton takes on that challenge with a clarity of thought and a conceptual rigor that are truly impressive. Those who wish to struggle with the connection between theory and practice in contemporary psychoanalysis would do well to spend some time with this volume.

Between 1988 and 1990, Hamilton conducted a series of interviews with sixty-five analysts of various orientation practicing in London, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York. In addition to conducting these interviews, she distributed a questionnaire to determine how this group of analysts had been influenced by a number of thinkers and theoretical schools. Univariate analyses of these two sets of data identified specific patterns of ideas that were linked with particular psychoanalytic “cultures.” Multivariate analyses discovered some highly intriguing interrelationships between technique and theory.

Hamilton herself comes from the Independent tradition in the British system, where she was trained by didactic teachers and supervisors affiliated with all three of the major theoretical orientations—contemporary Freudian, Independent, and Kleinian. She is ideally suited to undertake this project because, in addition to her training and fifteen years of practice in Britain, she has worked in Los Angeles for nearly twenty years.


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