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Holmes, J. (2011). Partners in Thought: Working with Unformulated Experience, Dissociation, and Enactment, by Donnel Stern, London: Routledge, 2010, 229 pp., $34.95. Psychoanal. Psychol., 28(1):145-153.

(2011). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 28(1):145-153

Book Reviews

Partners in Thought: Working with Unformulated Experience, Dissociation, and Enactment, by Donnel Stern, London: Routledge, 2010, 229 pp., $34.95

Review by:
Jeremy Holmes, M.D.

Following Stephen Mitchell's untimely death, Donnel Stern is rightly seen as the doyen of Relational Psychoanalysis (RP). In a series of publications he has eloquently and passionately expounded its theoretical-clinical principles in an accessible yet never oversimplified way. This latest volume, mainly a compilation of papers published over the past 10 years or so, further explicates and consolidates his earlier views (Stern, 1997).

In addition to the psychoanalytic cannon, a major influence on Stern's thinking is the work of the Heideggerian philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer (1965/2004). This poses problems for the empiricist Anglo-Saxon mind, constitutionally resistant to the speculations and intellectual pirouetting of “continental” philosophy. A brief attempt to summarize Gadamer's ideas insofar as they are relevant to psychotherapy follows. The everyday terms which Gadamer uses in a quasi-technical way are italicized.

For Gadamer, a Kantian hermeneuticist, there is no a priori position from which to grasp the truth—understanding is all. We are thus faced with seemingly inescapable existential dilemma. The full truth—the thing in itself—is never without reach. All that we have are our “understandings,” but these are inevitably tinged with “prejudice”—the historical and sociological preconceptions of the subject. From a psychoanalytic viewpoint transference could be seen as a species of prejudice.

However prejudice can be transformed into understanding through “true conversation” with another.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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