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Meissner, W.W. (1973). Success and Failure in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy: Edited by Benjamin B. Wolman, Ph.D. New York: The Macmillan Co., 1972. 260 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 42:642-642.
(1973). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 42:642-642
Success and Failure in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy: Edited by Benjamin B. Wolman, Ph.D. New York: The Macmillan Co., 1972. 260 pp.
Review by: W. W. Meissner
This is a rather thin book on a very fat subject. It represents the distillation of the Sixth Annual Scientific Conference on Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy held in New York in 1968. The papers are quite varied in quality and usefulness and generally seem to reflect a lack of editorial rigor.
The best of the whole package—despite its antiquity—is Freud's classic paper, Observations on Transference-Love. It is a paper that needs to be carefully studied and assimilated in the current ferment for greater reality contact and involvement with patients. It is a paper of more than historical interest—and provides in this volume a sort of modal statement against which some of the subsequent papers can be evaluated.
Among the offerings, one can recommend Stanley Lesse's paper on problems relating to social, economic, and socioeconomic change. Lesse points to an important emerging area of study and reflection but does little more than indicate its importance. One can also recommend Hans H. Strupp's paper on ferment in psychoanalysis, particularly for its emphasis on the need for research. Strupp also offers an acute critique of G. L. Paul's important study of the outcome of behavioral as opposed to more traditional therapies.
The rest of the volume offers a variety of clinical reflections. Among these, the contributions of Leon J. Saul, Edward Glover, Arnold Bernstein, and Lawrence S. Kubie are of value. For the most part the papers offer few positive contributions. The caveats are generally of the sort most clinicians are familiar with.
More valuable, in general, is the negative contribution. A number of cautions, critiques, and delineations of complexities and problem areas are offered—particularly by Saul, Glover, and Kubie—which serve as reminders of the difficulties in evaluating and understanding the process of psychotherapy, and why it is that psychotherapies of whatever description sometimes succeed and sometimes fail. Perhaps the most important area discussed is that concerning difficulties in the countertransference. But in such a thin volume the contributor can do little more than skim the surface of such an important topic. The present volume succeeds only in pointing out the significant areas of concern and problems where more intensive study is needed.
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