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Friedman, L. (2004). The texture of treatment: On the matter of psychoanalytic technique By Herbert J. Schlesinger Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press 2003 404 pp.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 85(6):1546-1551.

(2004). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 85(6):1546-1551

The texture of treatment: On the matter of psychoanalytic technique By Herbert J. Schlesinger Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press 2003 404 pp.

Review by:
Lawrence Friedman

A prized senior analyst and supervisor, a doyen of American ego-psychology, with a research background and a lifetime of astute clinical experience, Herbert Schlesinger is renowned for wisdom, wry wit, and the gift of felicitous expression. He has written a remarkable book that will probably take its place as a classic presentation of psychoanalysis despite its unpretentious and playfully deceptive title. The reader soon learns that ‘texture’ refers not to the impressionistic ‘feel’ of treatment, but to something more specific—something like the analyst's persistence in once again disturbing the patient's immediately restored equilibrium each time it is shaken by the analyst's provocative presence and action. And the quaint subtitle does not introduce a discursive, 19th-century-style essay, but announces an inquiry into the ‘matter’ of treatment, much as lawyers talk of their ‘matters’. In this way, the title disguises Schlesinger's strong challenge to an old psychoanalytic and increasingly popular belief that ‘technique’ is a fundamentally unpsychoanalytic preoccupation of anxious beginners.

But the title also misleads by suggesting that the book is just about technique. It is not. Anyone who moves through its conversational, reader-friendly length will (as the author ‘secretly’ hopes) acquire a good purchase on modern, ‘ego psychological’, Freudian theory of the mind and pathology. The reader may not know he has learned all that because it is incorporated into the practical, specific— indeed common-sensical—discussion of the patient's and analyst's situation, mostly in terms of problems, intentions and affects.

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