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Kolod, S. (2010). Every Patient Has a Story: A review of Writing About Patients: Responsibilities, Risk and Ramifications, by Judith Leopold Kantrowitz, 2006, Other Press, 335 pp.. Contemp. Psychoanal., 46(3):469-474.
  

(2010). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 46(3):469-474

Every Patient Has a Story: A review of Writing About Patients: Responsibilities, Risk and Ramifications, by Judith Leopold Kantrowitz, 2006, Other Press, 335 pp.

Review by:
Sue Kolod, Ph.D.

ACCORDING TO WRITING ABOUT PATIENTS, there are many reasons why psychoanalysts include case material in their publications. They hope to achieve prestige in the field, to understand how psychoanalysis works, or to reflect on and digest a powerful experience with a patient. Psychoanalytic writing has always depended on the use of clinical information to enliven theoretical papers, and the single case study is a time-honored tradition in our field dating back to Freud.

Until fairly recently, clinical material used in professional writing was considered to be “owned” by the psychoanalyst. Disguising a patient's identity from friends and family was the unofficial professional standard for publication. Two factors have dramatically changed this position. The first is the evolution of psychoanalytic theory from a one-person to a two-person model. That is, psychoanalytic process and content are increasingly viewed as cocreated by analyst and patient. It is therefore less likely that the analyst will make unilateral decisions regarding writing for the public. Second, the Internet has transformed accessibility to all published material. Twenty years ago it would have been unlikely that patients not in the field would come across their analysts' writings. Now one can simply “Google” one's therapist and potentially recognize oneself in the text of any publication. For these and other reasons, Kantrowitz's topic is timely and useful.

Despite acknowledging the challenges inherent in using case material, Kantrowitz takes the position that “[i]t is necessary for clinicians to expose their work and their thinking about it—for themselves as well as for other clinicians and for psychoanalysts” (p.

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