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Fisher, J. Anisfeld, L.S. (1983). Review Essay. Contemp. Psychoanal., 19:690-696.

(1983). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 19:690-696

Review Essay

Review by:
Janet Fisher, M.S.

Leon S. Anisfeld, D.S.W.

The Psychotherapeutic Conspiracy by Robert J. Langs New York, Jason Aronson, 1982

IN HIS USUAL FORTHRIGHT manner, Robert Langs has written The Psychotherapeutic Conspiracy (Jason Aronson, 1982), a serious exploration of the failure of present-day psychotherapies and psychotherapists to fulfill what to him is their primary function—i.e., creating a holding relationship and making unconscious expressions conscious by way of understanding the meanings of the patient-therapist interaction. In his preceding writings, Langs focused microscopically on the components of psychoanalytically oriented psychotherapy as a means of revealing and treating emotional disturbances. He elucidated the role of the therapist in listening to patients' communications and deciphering their meanings. He identified unconscious communications in dreams, symptoms, actions, and in the therapeutic dialogue. And most radically, he focused on the role of the therapist across a broad spectrum of activities—listening, maintaining a treatment "frame", intervening—in an effort to conceptualize the impact of the therapist on the curative process and to delineate the ongoing ways in which the patient's participation reflects, in necessarily complex and convoluted ways, his/her perceptions of and reactions to the therapist's activities.

Unlike his past writings, however, this book attempts to describe not simply the optimal conditions in which psychotherapy can proceed, but those "deviant" conditions in which psychotherapy is, in fact, conducted, to the ultimate detriment of the patient. Beyond this, he speculates about the factors, from the point of view of both patient and therapist, that might consciously and unconsciously influence either party to accept non-insightful, though at times relief-giving, treatment, or what he refers to as "lie therapy".

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