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Eckardt, M.H. (2004). Learning from Our Mistakes: Beyond Dogma in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, by Patrick Casement, The Guilford Press, New York, 2002, 150 pp., $26.00.. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 32(3):574-577.

(2004). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 32(3):574-577

Learning from Our Mistakes: Beyond Dogma in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, by Patrick Casement, The Guilford Press, New York, 2002, 150 pp., $26.00.

Review by:
Marianne Horney Eckardt, M.D.

Edited by:
Joseph P. Merlino, M.D., MPA and César Alfonso, M.D.

This is a remarkable, wise, affirming book by the English psychoanalyst, writer, and teacher Patrick Casement. I was delighted with and grateful for this chance encounter. He has authored two books about learning from patients, which were combined into one volume called On Learning from Patients published by Guilford Press (1991). This same theme is further elaborated in this book, accenting the dangers of imposing dogma and the dangers of the illusion of knowing. Even if we listen well to our patients, making mistakes is inevitable and requires an ongoing process of evaluation and thus an ongoing learning experience.

The history of psychoanalysis demonstrates the ability of our intricate theories to fascinate by their explanatory power. Everything can be seen in terms of something else. Casement is trying to counteract this excessive fascination. He believes that it is not profitable to be guided by theory. We have to be guided by what the patient consciously tells us plus by the emerging shapes of unconscious communications. He is aware that his orientation has a family resemblance to the interpersonal and inter-relational schools of thought, but as he wishes to free us from our preoccupation with theory, he refrains from citing literary references. An extensive bibliography is attached.

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