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Tucker, S. (2018). Myths of termination: What patients can teach psychoanalysts about endings. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 99(1):260-262.

(2018). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 99(1):260-262

Book Reviews

Myths of termination: What patients can teach psychoanalysts about endings

Sara S. Tucker

Myths of Termination: What Patients Can Teach Psychoanalysts about Endings delivers more than its title promises. In addition to examining long-held beliefs and assumptions about termination, this time from the patients’ points of view, Dr Kantrowitz documents the profound sea change in American psychoanalysis, tracing the shifts from dogmatic authoritarianism and expectations of perfection to a more tolerant and accepting stance.

Dr Kantrowitz starts with a simply but elegantly designed study of responses from 82 analysands who had terminated their treatments from less than six months to more than 50 years ago. All had volunteered to be interviewed over the telephone for one to two hours, to describe their experiences of termination in their own words in an open-ended way. She used the reports to examine certain myths she sees as continuing to influence how analysts conduct analyses and judge their work. “An overarching point I want to make in this book … is that generalizations interfere with our appreciation of both the complexity and specificity of experience” (p. 1).

From her interviews, Kantrowitz fashions an examination of views of termination and how they have changed, or not, over time. Further, she documents the seemingly endless varieties of experiences which, taken together, show the range of diversity and emotions which characterize the process of termination. She meets the challenge of extracting data from 82 interviews by creating a densely layered narrative.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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