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Wilson, M. (2007). Practical Psychoanalysis for Therapists and Patients by Owen Renik New York: Other Press, 2006, 179 pp.. Fort Da, 13(2):81-89.

(2007). Fort Da, 13(2):81-89

Practical Psychoanalysis for Therapists and Patients by Owen Renik New York: Other Press, 2006, 179 pp.

Reviewed by
Mitchell Wilson, M.D.

Kicking the Tires of Owen Renik's Practical Psychoanalysis for Therapists and Patients

In 2001, Berkeley Professor George Akerlof won the Nobel Prize in economics for a paper he published in 1970, “The Market for Lemons.” In that paper Akerlof demonstrated that the market for a given item, such as used cars, ultimately collapses when there is “asymmetric information” between buyer and seller. The reason for this fact is relatively straightforward. If there is “quality heterogeneity” — if some used cars are of better quality than others — and if sellers know which cars are “lemons” and buyers don't, then buyers will tend to want to pay less than they should for a given car. Buyers, in other words, imagine a scenario in which risk aversion predominates. Thus begins a cycle of artificial price reduction, ultimately leading to the used car market grinding to a halt.

What, in God's name, does any of this have to do with psychoanalysis? In Owen Renik's conceptualization of how psychotherapy works and how it should be conducted, it has everything to do with it. Here is Renik's view of the matter, and it is worth quoting him in full:

One reason analysts have traditionally been reluctant to share their own experiences of the events of treatment with their patients is that analysts fear creating an undue focus of attention upon themselves at their patient's expense. This concern is reasonable, but in fact it works in exactly the opposite way: the more an analyst acknowledges and is willing to discuss his or her personal participation in the treatment situation, the less room the analyst takes up and the more he or she leaves for the patient. A reticent analyst looms large, occupying center stage as a mysterious object of interest.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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