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Meyers, C.D. (1990). Psychoanalytic Treatment: An Intersubjective Approach: By Robert D. Stolorow, Bernard Brandchaft and George E. Atwood. Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press. 1987. Pp. x + 187.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 71:178-182.

(1990). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 71:178-182

Psychoanalytic Treatment: An Intersubjective Approach: By Robert D. Stolorow, Bernard Brandchaft and George E. Atwood. Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press. 1987. Pp. x + 187.

Review by:
Christopher D. Meyers

Psychoanalysis is a discipline that examines data generated in a two-person group comprised of a patient and an analyst. The authors of this book are intrigued by the fact that each participant sees himself and his world in a unique way. In other words, each of them has his own subjectivity. The authors have focused upon the interaction of these subjectivities, and have termed this focus the intersubjective approach. This approach provides a platform from which to examine and comment on various aspects of psychoanalytic theory and practice.

The authors are convinced of the superiority of the intersubjective viewpoint and have written a forthrightly polemical work in defence of it. In highlighting differences between their views and those of other psychoanalysts, they tend towards simplistic descriptions of other theoretical positions, and one is left at times with the impression that the authors have been attacking straw men. This is unfortunate; readers who are put off early in the book may neglect a number of valuable clinical presentations which follow. Regrettably, the clinical material is impossible to summarize adequately here, and our emphasis must be upon the authors' theoretical statements.

An interesting puzzle appears early in the argument. On the one hand, the authors assert that all psychoanalytic understanding takes place within the context defined by a particular patient and a particular analyst. On the other hand, they allow themselves to refer, for example, to 'forms of psychopathology, ranging from the psychoneurotic to the overtly psychotic', or to 'the situation that arises in treatment when there is a wide but unrecognized disparity between the relatively structured world of the analyst and an archaically organized personal universe of the patient'.

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