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Dick, G.L. (2011). A Review of “Psychoanalysis and Motivational Systems: A New Look” Lichtenberg, J. D., Lachmann, F. M., & Fosshage, J. L. (2011). New York: Routledge, 136 pages, $24.95.. Psychoanal. Soc. Work, 18(2):165-169.

(2011). Psychoanalytic Social Work, 18(2):165-169

A Review of “Psychoanalysis and Motivational Systems: A New Look” Lichtenberg, J. D., Lachmann, F. M., & Fosshage, J. L. (2011). New York: Routledge, 136 pages, $24.95.

Review by:
Gary L. Dick, PhD

All psychodynamically oriented social work therapists wonder about the origins of the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of those they see in their clinical practice. In fact, most people in general, especially those that are psychologically minded and who have reflected at one time or another on their own motivations, will question the motivations, intentions, and behaviors of those around them. Psychoanalysis and Motivational Systems: A New Look offers a psychoanalytic metatheory helping us understand the motivational systems that often shift within our mental states, or combine with one another as our real lived experience impacts our internal world.

Lichtenberg and colleagues have advanced the work of Lichtenberg's earlier writings on psychoanalysis and motivation and have written a well-organized, in-depth, and comprehensive book that is compatible with self psychology and the relational perspective. The seven chapters are each filled with the knowledge and wisdom of seasoned analysts who view motivation far beyond the original concept of an instinctual drive, both sexual and aggressive in nature to ensure the survival of the species and the individual. Their more comprehensive and dynamic understanding of motivation is viewed as a complex intersubjective process that is cocreated in a web of relationships with others. The book at times is a complicated read, and the authors repeatedly acknowledge the complexity of their ideas and offer multiple case examples that clearly illustrate their concepts, as well as metaphors, and diagrams.

The authors begin by offering clear operationalized definitions of mental states, motivation, and motivational systems. They identify how motivations emerge in relationships with others and how the affects, intentions, and goals are constructed in a dynamic interchange, incorporating systems thinking into our understanding of why we do what we do. Motivational theory has moved beyond the intrapsychic focus and into a relational or intersubjective focus. What are so helpful and offer insight into the application of Lichtenberg and colleagues’ motivational systems theory are the clinical vignettes through which the authors take us into their own internal world in working with patients.

[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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