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Tuch, R. (2018). Psychoanalytic Process and Theory: At War with the Obvious: Disruptive Thinking in Psychoanalysis. By Donald Moss. New York: Routledge, 2018, x + 172 pp., $175.00 hardcover, $44.95 paperback.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 66(4):805-813.
    

(2018). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 66(4):805-813

Psychoanalytic Process and Theory: At War with the Obvious: Disruptive Thinking in Psychoanalysis. By Donald Moss. New York: Routledge, 2018, x + 172 pp., $175.00 hardcover, $44.95 paperback.

Review by:
Richard Tuch

The thinking presented in Donald Moss's latest book is rich and complex, his clinical examples are interesting and apropos, and my review will surely not do it all justice. Between these covers Moss provides us an interesting collection of twelve papers loosely organized around two core themes: (1) the dangers of believing too strongly in “common sense” notions of reality (generally deemed “obvious”) and (2) the work of thinking. The latter requires delayed gratification and/or a willingness to tolerate states of unknowing relative to mysteries yet to be solved, despite commonsense explanations suggesting they have been. Moss believes that psychoanalysis stands squarely in opposition to commonsense notions of reality, though he astutely observes that the field creates commonsense answers of its own that can seriously stifle the analyst's efforts to find effective interventions/interpretations that are specific enough to a patient's situation and that don't sound like they've been drawn from dusty textbooks housing our collective wisdom. Best to keep thinking erotic, advises Moss, and he goes to great lengths in this volume to outline what's required to achieve that end: “being brought to the edge of what one knows” (p. 48); “being exposed to tremendous temptation, bearing that temptation—in an important sense, feeling it—while nonetheless delaying gratification, perhaps permanently. A silence that bears this strain is on the way to becoming ‘erotic thought’” (p. 49).

Moss notes that common sense can be seductively persuasive, not only because it is sincerely offered but also because it provides one a sense of certainty that allays the epistemological anxiety of not knowing.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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