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Katz, M. (2010). The Work of Confluence: Listening and Interpreting in the Psychoanalytic Field. By Madeleine and Willy Baranger. Edited by Leticia Glocer Fiorini. London: Karnac, 2009, 254 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 79(4):1144-1150.

(2010). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 79(4):1144-1150

The Work of Confluence: Listening and Interpreting in the Psychoanalytic Field. By Madeleine and Willy Baranger. Edited by Leticia Glocer Fiorini. London: Karnac, 2009, 254 pp.

Review by:
Montana Katz

The innovative and truly path-breaking work of Madeleine and Willy Baranger is scantily known and poorly understood amongst North American psychoanalysts, while in Europe and South America their unique psychoanalytic perspective is highly valued. Over half a century ago, they described a new psychoanalytic model involving a particular kind of space they called the analytic field. In The Work of Confluence: Listening and Interpreting in the Psychoanalytic Field, important clinical and theoretical applications of this model are explored.

This is an unusual, challenging, and deeply rewarding book. The writing itself is highly original, elegant, clear, and thoroughly engrossing. This collection is essential reading for anyone interested in the fundamental tenets of psychoanalysis and their clinical application.

The Work of Confluence consists of a collection of ten previously published essays as well as a foreword by Claudio Laks Eizirik and final comments by the editor, Leticia Glocer Fiorini. The ten essays include papers co-authored by Madeleine and Willy Baranger, by the two of them with Jorge Mario Mom, and by each of the Barangers individually. They were first published between 1961 and 1987, and six of them have not previously been translated into English. While all of the papers were written some time ago, the concepts and insights offered are still fresh and innovative today; it is unfortunate for English-speaking analysts that they were not translated into English earlier.

In addition to the concept of the analytic field, the Barangers introduced related clinical concepts. For example, impasses and stagnation in the analytic process are called bastions. These are understood as blockages that require the analyst to review the field; this process of review is referred to as a second look. These concepts and others have led to a new psychoanalytic paradigm that can be employed as the basis from which to explore and understand the fundamental concepts of psychoanalysis.

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