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Girouard, D. (2015). Living Psychoanalysis: From Theory to Experience by Michael Parsons. Published by Routledge, London and New York, 2014; 264 pp: £27.99 paperback. Brit. J. Psychother., 31(3):410-413.

(2015). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 31(3):410-413

Living Psychoanalysis: From Theory to Experience by Michael Parsons. Published by Routledge, London and New York, 2014; 264 pp: £27.99 paperback

Review by:
Dorothy Girouard

BBC Radio 4 has a book programme called ‘A Good Read’. Living Psychoanalysis is a good read. Michael Parsons has an ear for the English language. He writes about difficult concepts, for example, Après-coup, Remémoration, Avant-coup, with clarity. A clarity that enables the reader to think about the concepts themselves rather than first ‘hunt for the verb’, an activity which happens too often in analytic writing.

The book is both a compilation of ‘articles, lectures, and seminars of the past dozen years’ (p. xxi) and an analytic, philosophical autobiography. An autobiography which has a feeling of surprise about it. That in the re-reading of his papers the author sees something about himself he has not fully known before, or, as he quotes Martin Buber, ‘All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveller is unaware’ (p. xxix). I use the verb ‘see’ rather than ‘think’ or ‘feel’ because ‘to see’ or ‘to hear’ are the author's primary sense modalities. To explain his thinking about how Freud's original formulation of sexuality has evolved (p. 65) he illustrates Manet's ‘Le Déjeuner sur l'Herbe’ and compares it with Marcantonio Raimondi, ‘The Judgement of Paris’ and Anthony Caro's ‘Déjeuner sur l'Herbe II’ (Figures 5.1, 5.3, 5.2).

This is a highly personal book exploring how an analyst working out of the Independent tradition practises psychoanalysis.

[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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