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Appel, G. (1971). How Psychotherapy Heals: The Process of Intensive Psychotherapy. Richard D. Chessick New York: Science House, 1969. 227 pp.. Psychoanal. Rev., 58(3):487-488.
   

(1971). Psychoanalytic Review, 58(3):487-488

Book Reviews

How Psychotherapy Heals: The Process of Intensive Psychotherapy. Richard D. Chessick New York: Science House, 1969. 227 pp.

Review by:
Gerald Appel

In the introduction to How Psychotherapy Heals, Dr. Chessick states that “this book hopes to contribute toward raising the standards of teaching psychotherapy … by presenting a detailed discussion of aspects of psychotherapy that are usually glossed over in ordinary training and standard texts. It will focus mainly on the relatively obscure and undiscussed aspects of intensive psychotherapy. … It is hoped that the reader will emerge from this work with a better knowledge of … the crucial factors vital to the catalysis of psychic healing….”

Although it is questionable whether this ambitious purpose has been fully achieved in this relatively brief treatice, How Psychotherapy Heals does have particular value. In addressing himself to the psychotherapeutic trainee, the author attempts to convey a therapeutic attitude rather than a doctrinaire theory or organized system of treatment. Throughout, he stresses the need of the therapist to be self-aware, genuinely empathic and related to the patient, rather than to serve his own narcissistic ends. Though self-evident, these tenets are well worth restating.

Dr. Chessick's major interest as a practitioner appears to be the treatment of borderline psychotic patients. His case illustrations, examples of transferences and countertransferences, and discussions of technique, based largely upon his work with such patients, are informative and interesting. He emphasizes the management and countertransferential problems involved in working with primitive personalities, particularly for therapists who have unresolved fears of their own cannibalistic, primitive impulses and who become threatened by extreme dependency. He stresses the need to balance an investigative approach with acceptance of the borderline patient's dependency needs, his primitive ego organization and limited tolerance for anxiety; and the need for a flexible, rather than rigid and detached, approach to the patient. The chapters dealing with interpretation and insight, working-through and supportive therapy are standard in their presentation and content.

Later

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