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Fonagy, P. (1985). On Learning from the Patient: By Patrick Casement. London: Tavistock Publications. 1985. Pp. 244 + x.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 66:507-508.

(1985). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 66:507-508

On Learning from the Patient: By Patrick Casement. London: Tavistock Publications. 1985. Pp. 244 + x.

Review by:
Peter Fonagy

Books rarely have titles that describe their contents accurately. Patrick Casement's book is a notable exception. Adopting an attitude that is perhaps most reminiscent of D. W. Winnicott's dedication: 'To my patients who have paid to teach me', the author skilfully outlines the basic principles of psychoanalytic technique not as a set of 'givens', but as lessons to be learned from the careful study of the analytic interchange. In each chapter Casement sets out clinical examples from which his readers can assimilate the basic components of the psychoanalytic method. The reader thus literally learns from the patient in a sense alongside the author.

The first chapter introduces the parsimonious theoretical framework within which the book is couched. It owes little to Matte-Blanco's mathematical model and much to Casement's own imaginative way of explaining the therapeutic relationship. For example, he draws on the process of solving a numerical puzzle to aid the reader's understanding of the process of interpretation. Similarly, concepts such as 'sets', 'subsets' and 'symmetry' are offered as a medium through which the more elaborate notions of transference and countertransference may be absorbed. Casement's main aim is not to impart a thorough grounding in psychoanalytic theory but to acquaint the reader with psychoanalytic technique.

At an early stage Casement introduces the major protagonist of the book, the 'internal supervisor'. The internal supervisor evolves from the internalization of the experience of supervision.

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