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Abse, S. (2020). Progress in Psychoanalysis: Envisioning the Future of the Profession edited by Steven D. Axelrod, Ronald S. Naso and Larry M. Rosenberg. Published by Routledge, Abingdon, 2018; 306 pp, £32.99 paperback. Brit. J. Psychother., 36(2):334-337.
(2020). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 36(2):334-337
Progress in Psychoanalysis: Envisioning the Future of the Profession edited by Steven D. Axelrod, Ronald S. Naso and Larry M. Rosenberg. Published by Routledge, Abingdon, 2018; 306 pp, £32.99 paperback
Review by: Susanna Abse
This is a timely book. The debates around psychoanalysis and the state we're in seem to be growing, and encouragingly, there is some evidence from improved recruitment to our training programmes, that there is a resurgence of interest in our field. The use of the word psychoanalysis in policy and political discussions feels less toxic, as people seek to understand the complexities and challenges our society is currently facing.
The book is written by prominent and respected American psychoanalysts and is rooted in the US experience, but it is striking how relevant it feels to the UK. This in itself is interesting, as it points to the shared culture of psychoanalysis, which, whilst coming with great benefits, also means we are replicating some of the difficulties on both sides of the pond. My guess is that if we asked the international community generally, we would find the challenges written about in this book to be almost universal.
The book is divided into three sections: Perspectives, Research and Training, and Beyond the Consulting Room. This structure is helpful in ensuring that the authors focus on both the internal challenges facing psychoanalysis as well as the realities of the ‘operating environment’ we are practising in.
The opening chapters explore the crisis that psychoanalysis faces, which is described as a ‘stagnated professional culture’ (p. 1). The authors identify why this state of affairs has come about; positing that the discrediting of some of Freud's views on women, together with controversies linked to his seduction theory, began the decline.
[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.]