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Tip: To review the bibliography…

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It is always useful to review an article’s bibliography and references to get a deeper understanding of the psychoanalytic concepts and theoretical framework in it.

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Quinodoz, J. (2004). Sex, death, and the superego. Experiences in psychoanalysis BY Ronald Britton London, New York: Karnac Books. 2003. 196 pp.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 85(3):790-794.

(2004). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 85(3):790-794

Sex, death, and the superego. Experiences in psychoanalysis BY Ronald Britton London, New York: Karnac Books. 2003. 196 pp. Language Translation

Review by:
Jean-Michel Quinodoz

Psychoanalysis today is alive and well—this is the general impression that emerges from Ronald Britton's book. With an informal conversational tone and an illuminating style, Britton takes us back to the fundamental point that our identity as psychoanalysts is essentially based on everyday clinical experience. This book is highly invigorating and enjoyable to read but I am fully aware that I cannot do justice to all its qualities by summarising it in a few pages. From the outset, the author encourages us to put our trust in the practice and to guard against any temptation to demonstrate the validity of the psychoanalytic process by basing it on pieces of evidence. This evidence-based approach derived from medicine is highly fashionable among psychoanalysts today:

The claim evidence based seems to brook no argument and dismisses all those activities, clinical opinions, and theories not easily demonstrated or for which there is not yet sufficient evidence. Rather than finding them unproven, it makes them seem unreasonable (p. x).

For the author, psychoanalysis remains primarily experience based and he invites us to accept the uncertainty that accompanies any process involving a relationship. However, the only way to gain experience of dealing with the transference and countertransference is to see a large number of patients over many years, which is something that substantially extends the training period. Finally, psychoanalysts today are confronted more than ever before with a wide diversity of schools of thought, which requires a progressive self-emancipation from the intellectual masters and the different schools. This is why, Britton argues, it is by clinical experience alone that the psychoanalyst can discover his own path, not only during training but throughout his career.

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