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Waska, R. (2011). A Disturbance in the Field: Essays in Transference-Countertransference Engagement, by Steven Cooper, New York, NY: Routledge, 2010, 256 pp., $90.00. Psychoanal. Psychol., 28(3):465-470.

(2011). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 28(3):465-470

A Disturbance in the Field: Essays in Transference-Countertransference Engagement, by Steven Cooper, New York, NY: Routledge, 2010, 256 pp., $90.00

Review by:
Robert Waska, MFT, Ph.D.

A Disturbance in the Field: Essays in Transference-Countertransference Engagement, published in 2010 by Routledge/Taylor and Francis, is a new book by Steven Cooper. At the start of this book, he states that he is interested in finding the common ground, clinically, between the relational approach and other schools such as the Kleinian, Freudian, Kohutian, and others.

In the introduction, Cooper states he will be examining the moments of transition, change, and newness that occur in psychoanalytic treatment. He alerts us that although he is very interested in countertransference as a clinical tool and the analyst's imagination as helpful in the therapeutic work, he warns us to not see these elements in any heroic or idealistic manner. Cooper promises to explore the areas of unconscious conflict, fantasy, and the interpersonal process and believes both patient and analyst try to hold these dimensions in mind and communicate with each other throughout the clinical process.

Cooper declares that after 30 years of experience, he feels there are two major frontiers that make up the psychoanalytic process: unconscious conflict and fantasy as well as interpersonal experiences and interactions. Cooper goes on to say the book will be about these matters, from the relational view and the Kleinian view, combined with perspectives from the view of Freud and Kohut. He promises a potential fusion of such methods or at least a look at a way to attempt such a combination.

Overall, I enjoyed reading the book but was disappointed in that Cooper's outline of what the reader can expect does not unfold. What is offered in this book is interesting, and at times illuminating, but overall runs somewhat flat. There were numerous places where Cooper could have taken his discussion points and tried to build a new fusion of relational, Freudian, Kleinian, and Kohutian approaches but he did not. I find it interesting that his case material seems to be a standard yet very skilled and natural combination of such views, but he does not elaborate on any theoretical matters or examine his case material as being predominantly a combination of such views. Therefore, I think there are many helpful and insightful points made in this book, but I was never really moved in any particular manner by the text.

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