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Reis, B. (2013). The Silent Past and the Invisible Present. By Paul Renn. New York: Routledge, 2012. 213 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 82(2):524-528.

(2013). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 82(2):524-528

The Silent Past and the Invisible Present. By Paul Renn. New York: Routledge, 2012. 213 pp.

Review by:
Bruce Reis

According to a story told in Genesis, all of us once spoke a single language. Construction began on a tower that would reach all the way up to heaven to unite us as a people with God, for we felt pretty good about ourselves and sought increasing recognition. But, to slow us down and humble us, God confounded our speech, leaving us unable to communicate with each other. Instead of a common language, we were left with a confusion of tongues, one that made building such a tower impossible.

In The Silent Past and the Invisible Present, Paul Renn sets to work on his own tower. It is decidedly a relational tower, one that seeks to integrate the disparate languages of psychoanalysis with those of neuroscience, cognitive psychology, attachment theory, trauma studies, and developmental psychology. In the foreword, Judith Guss Teicholz describes Renn's project of “dissolving theoretical divisions” (p. xxv) and suggests that such divisions may indeed increasingly disappear through efforts such as this one, leading to a unification of the relational discourse.

Of course, that has not happened, nor is it likely to. Renn's book does not provide a unified field theory or create a single language. However, what it does do is present another rich perspective, one that joins the author's far-reaching curiosity and gentle lucidity with his goal of understanding all that is involved in the process of change in psychotherapy. Here is an author whose interest is both wide and deep.

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