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Rayner, E. (1993). The Analytic Experience: By Neville Symington. London: Free Association Books. 1986. Pp. 347.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 74:630-633.

(1993). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 74:630-633

The Analytic Experience: By Neville Symington. London: Free Association Books. 1986. Pp. 347.

Review by:
Eric Rayner

This is a book of stature and dignity. First published some time ago and now well into its third reprinting, it deserves careful thought. It arose directly out of Symington's lectures to a wide body of students of psychoanalytic psychotherapy at the Tavistock Clinic in London. As he says, the book was forged between him and successive audiences over a good many years. Therefore, the first way we must evaluate the book is as an elementary introduction to psychoanalytic theory and practice. However, the author interweaves a second function with this—illustrating his descriptions of other people's core psychoanalytic theories with his own case material. By serving other's ideas, he slowly unfolds his own philosophy about the therapeutic vocation, and it is this in particular that makes it a book of distinction. There are thus two readerships for this book; firstly, for students, and we will come to this in a moment. Secondly, it could be of use to any analyst or therapist. For instance, I suspect that when even experienced teachers of psychoanalysis read this book with a view to putting it on a reading list, they will find themselves engrossed and absorbed into re-thinking their own philosophy. Let us evaluate this work both as a textbook and as a portrayal of one analyst's technique and therapeutic philosophy.

Symington is a psychoanalyst working in Australia who learnt his trade in London in what is known as the Independent tradition. Here the reader must be warned that the reviewer comes from the same background and finds it easier to agree with Symington's philosophy than many other analysts might.

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