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Leary, K. (1998). A Different Kind of Listening. My Psychoanalysis and Its Shadow. By Kim Chernin. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 1995. 215 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 67(3):519-522.

(1998). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 67(3):519-522

A Different Kind of Listening. My Psychoanalysis and Its Shadow. By Kim Chernin. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 1995. 215 pp.

Review by:
Kimberlyn Leary

Few of our colleagues openly discuss their own treatment experiences in print. This is remarkable, given the degree to which the personal analysis is among the core experiences of the analyst's own training. Occasionally, an analyst will include a brief vignette from his or her own analysis to make a specific, usually well-delimited point, but the convention by and large is that the analyst's analysis remains outside our public professional discourse.

Kim Chernin's A Different Kind of Listening: My Psychoanalysis and Its Shadow situates itself within this gap. The book—an account of the author's twenty-five years as an analytic patient of three different analysts—is a provocative and disquieting work. At its center is a haunting lament about the limits of analytic listening and, from Chernin's point of view, the limitations of each of her analysts. The book is at once a piece of autobiography and a meditation on analytic change. With each analysis representing a distinctive psychoanalytic Zeitgeist (e.g., classical, ego-psychological, neo-Kleinian), the book is also a highly readable intellectual history of the development of psychoanalytic thought.

Chernin is an accomplished writer: A Different Kind of Listening is exceedingly well written. She is also a psychotherapist and has positioned herself on the outskirts of the psychoanalytic communities in the San Francisco Bay area where she works. She has not sought formal psychoanalytic training but nonetheless offers herself as a “psychoanalytic listener” to her clients. She is appreciative of analytic history, well versed in clinical theory, and full at home with the postmodern metier of contemporary psychoanalysis. Rejecting the view that analysis is a “treatment” for “illness,” Chernin describes her own analytic efforts as a “non-interpretive art” involving a collaborative storytelling. The analyst learns the language of another's self-expression and puts aside her own voice in favor of the client's. For Chernin, this means that the analyst no longer interprets in any traditional, intersubjective, or even social-constructivist sense but by listening helps the unheard voices of the client's self to find a language.

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