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Ahlskog, G. (2017). A Clinical Introduction to Freud: Techniques for Everyday Practice. By Bruce Fink. New York: Norton, 2017, 358 pp.. Psychoanal. Rev., 104(5):629-637.

(2017). Psychoanalytic Review, 104(5):629-637


A Clinical Introduction to Freud: Techniques for Everyday Practice. By Bruce Fink. New York: Norton, 2017, 358 pp.

Review by:
Gary Ahlskog, Ph.D.

Excitement begins on the first page as Bruce Fink contends that analyzing transference and resistance are not pathways to the unconscious. Transference and resistance are obstacles that interfere with the pathways Freud recommended. Although the title says the book is an “Introduction to Freud,” Fink's discussion goes beyond basics to cover some of the most sophisticated issues in psychoanalytic practice today. The focus is on Freud's methods of accessing unconscious material, which, because they do not follow conventional logic, tend to be misremembered by students and senior analysts alike. Students could not ask for a better overview of psychoanalytic treatment, and senior analysts could not ask for a better reminder.

Here are examples of Fink's understanding of Freud's methods of accessing the unconscious:

1.   Catharsis: Instead of being content with a patient's first version of his or her problems, therapists need to “greatly encourage” (p. 37, emphasis in original) patients to tell their stories over and over, elaborating circumstances, feelings, and thoughts. Each retelling will produce emotional relief and deeper insight. If not, then the story is incomplete.

2.   Reading symptoms: A symptom forms, just as a dream image forms, by investing conflicting thoughts, feelings, events, fantasies, and imagoes with overdetermined meanings that evolve over time. One of the analyst's methods for reading these meanings is to update monthly a written chronology of symptoms and events in the patient's history. This would not take more than five minutes and is virtually guaranteed to yield insights (pp. 126-127).

3.   Expanding

[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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