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Axelrod, S.D. (2011). What You Don't Know You Know: Our Hidden Motives in Life, Business, and Everything Else, by Ken Eisold, PhD, New York: Other Press, 2010, 264 pp., $23.95.. Psychoanal. Psychol., 28(2):336-338.

(2011). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 28(2):336-338

What You Don't Know You Know: Our Hidden Motives in Life, Business, and Everything Else, by Ken Eisold, PhD, New York: Other Press, 2010, 264 pp., $23.95.

Review by:
Steven D. Axelrod, Ph.D.

Both friends and adversaries of psychoanalysis have been busy writing its epitaph for the better part of two decades. Within our profession, complaints abound regarding the paucity of analytic patients and declining fees. Practitioners feel marginalized and demoralized, and perhaps most tellingly, psychoanalytic practitioners are struggling to replace themselves—the average age is going up as the number of candidates entering training goes down.

In response to these challenges, some things have changed in an effort to make psychoanalysis more approachable and user-friendly. We have trended away from the cold, remote, and authoritarian stance of the analyst, and have deemphasized the hard and fast differences between psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic psychotherapy. Many of us have replaced a patriarchal Freudian framework with a more matriarchal Relational theory. Yet, given the modal psychoanalytic personality type and the insular nature of our profession, we have tended to blame and complain rather than develop an effective strategy to respond to the challenges facing us. There has been plenty of concern and good intentions, but a paucity of good leadership.

Ken Eisold is one of the few analysts who have offered both a meaningful analysis of our profession's difficulties and a vision for a more vibrant future. Both a practicing clinician and an organizational consultant, Eisold has offered a clear-eyed critique of our profession's shortcomings while also identifying its strengths and opportunities. In this book, he continues and extends the writing he has done on the profession of psychoanalysis over the last 15 years, most notably his 2007 article “The erosion of our profession (Eisold, 2007).” He lays out an argument for the continuing relevance of psychoanalysis based on what he calls “the new unconscious” and offers a vision of a more robust psychoanalysis in the future. In doing so, he challenges us to join a very important discussion and debate.


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