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Levy, A.J. (2015). The Interpersonal Tradition: The Origins of Psychoanalytic Subjectivity. Psychoanal. Perspect., 12(1):91-98.

(2015). Psychoanalytic Perspectives, 12(1):91-98

Book Review

The Interpersonal Tradition: The Origins of Psychoanalytic Subjectivity

Alan J. Levy, Ph.D.

When asked to write a review for this journal, I didn’t hesitate to choose Irwin Hirsch’s new book. From reading his earlier writing, Hirsch strikes me as the consummate iconoclast. His prior work, Coasting in the Countertransference, challenged analytic clinicians to examine their own interests in the service of genuinely treating patients, without the pretense that often ensues from unacknowledged conflicts of interest.

Hirsch solidly places himself within the company of analysts who came of age within the Interpersonal tradition and who now find themselves part of a broader community of those of us who identify as Relational. From this perspective, it is not surprising that Hirsch and others designate themselves as “Interpersonal-Relational.” How one chooses to identify oneself often encompasses more than simple self-reference. Such terms have great heuristic value. It places the individual and one’s community in time and space, linking and distinguishing oneself in reference to others. This notion is fully compatible with Interpersonal and Relational thinking as each of us defines her theoretical and clinical stance through experiences relating to others.

The question then is, why identify through a hyphenated term? This forms the raison d’être for Hirsch’s book. Hirsch explicitly is on a mission to mark the terrain of Relational thought that derives from Interpersonal psychoanalysis, especially those elements that he views as indistinguishable from it. That this book is published at this juncture is an indication of where Relational psychoanalysis finds itself in its development. It no longer is the new kid on the block.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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