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Trotter, A.M. Harlem, A. (2016). Cyclical Psychodynamics and the Contextual Self, by Paul L. Wachtel, New York, NY: Routledge, 2014, 244 pp., ISBN: 9780415713955 (Paperback), $54.95. Psychoanal. Psychol., 33(3):525-529.

(2016). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 33(3):525-529

Cyclical Psychodynamics and the Contextual Self, by Paul L. Wachtel, New York, NY: Routledge, 2014, 244 pp., ISBN: 9780415713955 (Paperback), $54.95

Review by:
Amber M. Trotter, M.A.

Andrew Harlem, Ph.D.

Paul Wachtel has been thinking and writing about psychoanalysis for nearly 50 years. And, thankfully for us, he has resisted conformity. Wachtel championed a contextual, postmodern conception of the self before it was fashionable, and his incisive critiques of psychoanalytic insularity have helped expand the margins of our discipline. Although his integrative approach to psychotherapy reflects many strands of thinking that have come to be associated with the broader relational turn, his vision for psychoanalysis has its own distinctive incubation. This has been most evident in his unflinching pursuit of breadth, his deep appreciation for science and ethics, his insistence that psychoanalysis dialogue with other disciplines, and his consideration of the social world when imagining the psychoanalytic subject.

Cyclical Psychodynamics and the Contextual Self: The Inner World, the Intimate World, and the World of Culture and Society, Wachtel's latest volume, synthesizes ideas cured over decades. The title alone signals the striking ambition of this project—one that its author carries out with characteristic pragmatism and clarity, weaving together culture and psyche in ways that illuminate both clinical practice and our contemporary cultural landscape. Cyclical Psychodynamics is readily accessible without foregoing complexity. In addition, its author's reflections on his long involvement with the psychoanalytic community give the book a winning historical grounding.

The first half of Cyclical Psychodynamics orients the reader to Wachtel's particular psychoanalytic vision.

[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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