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Haynal, A. (2007). Psychotherapists as expert witnesses: Families at breaking point by Roger Kennedy London: Karnac. 2005. 235 p.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 88(2):541-544.

(2007). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 88(2):541-544

Psychotherapists as expert witnesses: Families at breaking point by Roger Kennedy London: Karnac. 2005. 235 p.

Review by:
André Haynal

This book presents a psychoanalytic approach from the point of view of an experienced senior expert witness of family dynamics and family law. The author sets out by ‘using psychoanalysis to understand the nature of the process involved with individuals, their relationships to each other and within a family context, as well as their interactions with the legal structures’ (p. 2). This implies making contact with people in difficult circumstances. The author describes the independent attitude he takes in the difficult bridging of the identity of a psychotherapist-psychoanalyst and of an ‘expert’ in the realities of families in dramatic situations, i.e. ‘at breaking point’. He gives us a transparent description of what happens in these families and how we can help them.

In the first two chapters (up to p. 70), Kennedy gives an exact description of the procedures involved in the logical organization of his professional expert work and putting them into action. He discusses in detail the assessment of families, illustrated later by many gripping clinical examples. The cases are presented in an atmosphere of great understanding and empathy. The reader senses the author's patient listening skills, his attention to anxieties, defence, and subtleties of personality, as well as openness to the unknown. For instance, chapter 3 presents three insightful clinical examples to illustrate the most painful side of this kind of practice, namely the question of how to deal with the ‘best worst option’.

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