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Ingham, G. (1998). The Analyst's Preconscious. By Victoria Hamilton. The Analytic Press. $47.50/-£38.00. Pp. ix + 352.. Psychoanal. Psychother., 12(1):83-87.

(1998). Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 12(1):83-87

The Analyst's Preconscious. By Victoria Hamilton. The Analytic Press. $47.50/-£38.00. Pp. ix + 352.

Review by:
Graham Ingham

‘Meaning is use’ goes the philosophical slogan. It is a stance at the heart of psychoanalysis and firmly at the centre of this important book and the research study from which it emerged. Victoria Hamilton's concern is ‘what analysts are actually doing’, and, connecting the thinking of all the analysts from whom we hear in the book is the belief that ‘what matters is intimately tied up with what works in the consulting room’. Securely located within the analytic tradition as it is, The Analyst's Preconscious is also an original and unusual work. Although deeply focused on the detail of analytic practice, it contains no clinical material—the ‘material’ comprises extracts from interviews with 65 British and American analysts (31 in London, 34 spread between New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco), all conducted by the author between 1988 and 1990.

The analysts interviewed are of differing orientations and seniority. They are presented anonymously (though the personalities of several emerge vividly in the course of the book, and it is difficult to avoid a guessing game), and they tell us how they work in response to Victoria Hamilton's semi-directed interviewing. The questions around which the interviews were structured are appendixed: they are sensitive, penetrating and finely-tuned instruments in themselves, and indeed a productive hour or two can be spent reflecting on one's own responses to them. They cover twenty-seven dimensions of technique: attitudes to neutrality, countertransference, etc.

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