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Usher, S. (2015). Body Talk: Looking and Being Looked at in Psychotherapy by Janice Lieberman Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 2000, 277 pp.. Canadian J. Psychoanal., 23(2):397-400.

(2015). Canadian Journal of Psychoanalysis, 23(2):397-400

Body Talk: Looking and Being Looked at in Psychotherapy by Janice Lieberman Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 2000, 277 pp.

Review by:
Sarah Usher

In an article titled “The Dowdy Patient,” in the New York Times, 18 June 2015, a (male) therapist complains that he has the bad luck of always seeing dowdy (female) patients. He asks why, in one example he gives, his patient's friends had not informed her about how to dress and apply make-up. There are many reasons we shudder in reading his plea, most of them covered in Body Talk, by Janice Lieberman.

Lieberman is an accomplished writer, psychoanalyst, and also a lecturer at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. The last gives away her interest in the visual, which is integrated in her psychoanalytic thinking and treatment, described in detail in this extremely readable work.

Dr. Lieberman's thesis is that “vision, language development, and the development of body narcissism are intimately connected” (p. 14). She states, “It is time for the therapeutic lens to focus on the important but neglected role of vision—of looking and being looked at, of seeing and being seen—in the development of self and self-esteem, in object awareness and object interaction, and in the psychotherapeutic situation itself” (p. 15).


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