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Dickinson, A. (1996). Clinical Practice and the Architecture of the Mind by Robert Langs. Published by Karnac, London, 1995; 149 pages; £15.95.. Brit. J. Psychother., 13(1):140-141.

(1996). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 13(1):140-141

Clinical Practice and the Architecture of the Mind by Robert Langs. Published by Karnac, London, 1995; 149 pages; £15.95.

Review by:
Adrian Dickinson

In this book Robert Langs explains and examines the implications of the theories he has developed through his communicative and empowered psychotherapies. Although he is often seen as a maverick figure, his ideas, particularly those of the metaphoric or narrative communication between patient and therapist being direct rather than transferential from earlier figures or from internal fantasy, have had considerable influence (Casement 1985). Here, distinguishing between the conscious and the ‘deep unconscious system’, he argues that the latter system of the ‘emotionprocessing mind’ has a wisdom and a directness lacking in the conscious system.

Langs argues that as well as the ‘superficial’ (or Freudian) unconscious in which the normal modes of unconscious functioning can be observed through symptoms, behaviour and language there is an autonomous ‘deep unconscious system’, the effects of which can be observed and analysed in the ‘unique situation’ of personal therapy. This deep unconscious system, in a way that I find not that far removed from Freud's concept of manifest and latent dream content, communicates through narratives that, when ‘decoded’, reveal the patient's unconscious anxieties and wishes about the preservation of the ‘secure frame’ of the analytic session, together with observation of its ‘ground rules’. All this will be familiar to readers of his earlier books.

What is interesting in this book is his clear exposition of his communicative approach to psychotherapy (through fictional clinical vignettes designed to illustrate his practice), and his speculation about the evolutionary advantages of a dual system of mental ‘emotion processing’ in which the conscious system is totally separate from the ‘deep unconscious’.

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