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Blechner, M.J. (1994). The Intimate Edge: Extending the Reach of Psychoanalytic Interaction: by Darlene Bregman Ehrenberg (New York: Norton, 1992, xiv + 210 pp.). Psychoanal. Dial., 4(2):283-291.
(1994). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 4(2):283-291
The Intimate Edge: Extending the Reach of Psychoanalytic Interaction: by Darlene Bregman Ehrenberg (New York: Norton, 1992, xiv + 210 pp.)
Review by: Mark J. Blechner, Ph.D.
It is perilous to write about psychoanalytic technique. Other clinicians second-guess your clinical interventions and tell you what really happened. People accuse you of too much of something: certainty, wildness, rigidity, countertransference, prescription, oversimplification, overcomplication, intellectualization, reliance on intuition—the list could go on much longer. It is much safer to write about theories, which can be argued ad infinitum without anyone having any idea what you do in your office. Many analysts avoid ever entering this professional minefield or, having been burned, stop writing about technique.
Darlene Ehrenberg has been writing about psychoanalytic technique for about two decades, and the subject of her writing has rarely swayed from that field. That, in itself, is something of a record. Many of her ideas are now collected, revised, expanded, and reintegrated in a volume entitled The Intimate Edge, which is also the title of one of her first important papers. The new book is a little gem of psychoanalytic writing on technique. Its style of writing matches the style of treatment it espouses—Ehrenberg, in her clinical work and her writing, almost always stays close to clinical data and emotional experience. The book is crammed with clinical examples, with clear descriptions of what Ehrenberg and her patients do and say. The writing is free of metapsychology and jargon; no sooner does any concept come up than Ehrenberg illustrates it with accounts from her consulting room.
Mark J. Blechner, Ph.D. is Supervisor of Psychotherapy, a member of the teaching faculty, and Founder and Director of the HIV Clinical Service at the William Alanson White Institute. He is also Director of Curriculum, Supervisor, and on the faculty of the Manhattan Institute for Psychoanalysis.