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Berezin, M.A. (1986). Dynamic Therapy of the Older Patient: By Wayne A. Myers, M.D. New York/London: Jason Aronson, Inc., 1984. 257 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 55:517-519.
(1986). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 55:517-519
Dynamic Therapy of the Older Patient: By Wayne A. Myers, M.D. New York/London: Jason Aronson, Inc., 1984. 257 pp.
Review by: Martin A. Berezin
Dynamic therapy for older people is an idea whose time has finally arrived. I mean simply that in view of the recent explosion of interest in geriatric psychiatry, this information, which was known only to a few of us in the past, is now known to a very large and receptive audience. Psychoanalysis and dynamic therapy for old people has finally emerged from the closet.
There has been some trepidation that the recent explosion which has made geriatric psychiatry fashionable might lead to the entrance into the field of untrained, "instant," overnight geriatricians. Indeed there are such people, but Wayne Myers is not one of them. His case reports indicate that he has had years of intensive work with the elderly, and his theoretical formulations reveal the depth of his studies.
Today's acceptance of dynamic therapy for older people has a rocky history, beginning with Freud's feeling that psychoanalysis was not helpful for patients over fifty. As Myers points out in his review of the literature, Abraham disagreed with Freud. Still, Almost forty years elapsed before this issue was seriously studied. My own interest began in the early 1950's, and by 1960 the Boston Society for Gerontologic Psychiatry was founded, dedicated to the psychoanalytic understanding and treatment of the geriatric population. Myers, in his review, gives due credit to the early pioneers.
The value of this book rests on the presentation of six case histories: the therapy of a man with a lifelong potency problem, of an alcoholic woman, of a virginal woman, and of a depressed man; therapy leading to the dissolution of a fifty-year-old symptom; and a failed psychotherapy with a narcissistic man.
Four of these patients were treated with psychoanalysis and two with psychotherapy. As Myers says, "Not all these case histories are unmitigated success stories. Failure, as well as successes and partial successes, have been included" (p. xi).
I found Myers's reports superb. They are priceless and by far the most important part of his book. I found it exciting to read them, and, as with a whodunit, I could not wait to find out the eventual results. I predict that other readers will share my pleasure in the reading of these reports.
If there is a fault in any aspect of his reports, it may be in his discussion of his countertransference to his elderly patients. To
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