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Shane, E. (2018). STEVEN STERN: NEEDED RELATIONSHIPS AND PSYCHOANALYTIC HEALING. Psychoanal. Self. Cxt., 13(3):299-306.

(2018). Psychoanalysis, Self, and Context, 13(3):299-306


Estelle Shane, Ph.D.

Before they even came into print, I had read several of the chapters of Steven Stern’s 2017 publication, Needed Relationships and Psychoanalytic Healing: A Holistic Relational Perspective on the Therapeutic Process. I was favorably impressed by them, and looked forward to more, but I hadn’t anticipated the impact the entire book would have on me until I read the published version of the work as a whole. I was particularly struck by a number of things.

I’ll begin with the title, because it so accurately portrays the author’s intentions for his book. The opening phrase, “Needed Relationships,” inevitably refers us back to Steve’s 1994 article published in Psychoanalytic Dialogues, “Needed relationships and repeated relationships: An integrated relational perspective.” I still remember the excitement and, yes, envy, that that article had provoked among its first readers, particularly its younger readers, even before it was put into print. That a candidate could have written and then published such an original contribution, one that garnered the respect and admiration of colleagues of every age, stage, and theoretical persuasion, created awe throughout the analytic community.

Stern’s 1994 article demonstrates how Self Psychology’s selfobject concept (the needed relationship) and the more classical-object relational concept (the repeated relationship) can be integrated productively in relational thought. Thus, Steve’s career as a significant contributor to the psychoanalytic field was well launched; and while the form that Steve’s concept of “needed relationships” now assumes in this book has been expanded considerably, based on Steve’s more contemporary thought and on his open integration of the considerable literature on the topic, yet I welcome his return to his most generative idea.

[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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