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Bridges, N.A. (2013). A Review of “Toward an Emancipatory Psychoanalysis: Brandchaft's Intersubjective Vision” Brandchaft, B., Doctors, S., & Sorter, D. (2010). New York, NY: Taylor & Francis, 289 pages. $39.95.. Psychoanal. Soc. Work, 20(1):92-95.

(2013). Psychoanalytic Social Work, 20(1):92-95

A Review of “Toward an Emancipatory Psychoanalysis: Brandchaft's Intersubjective Vision” Brandchaft, B., Doctors, S., & Sorter, D. (2010). New York, NY: Taylor & Francis, 289 pages. $39.95.

Nancy A. Bridges

Bernard Brandchaft devoted many decades of his life to developing his ideas about childhood trauma and the co-creation of complex systems of pathological accommodation. Brandchaft and his esteemed colleagues offer us a text that holds the potential to change how we listen to patients and conduct treatment. This volume, comprised of lectures and previously published and unpublished papers written in collaboration with his valued colleagues and former students, Shelley Doctors and Dorienne Sorter, honors his life's work.

It is a pleasure to accompany these authors as they offer new theoretical and clinical perspectives on ties that distort and derail forward development. Sharing his compelling personal journey of theoretical liberation and clinical discovery, Brandchaft notes with sadness the personal loss of connection with valued colleagues as he diverged theoretically from the pack and followed his clinical experience. While psychoanalytic treatment is the focus here, Brandchaft's personal experience resonates and is an important reminder of the universality of ties that bind. Who among us has not experienced the dicey intersubjective choreography of remaining connected to valued others while struggling to honor our subjective reality? Otherness can feel and in fact, be dangerous in some intersubjective contexts. And yet it is out of mutual recognition in intersubjective relationships that the self emerges, enlarges, and adds complexity and changes. Not only in analytic treatment but also in life.

Brandchaft et al. offer us a theoretical and clinical model drawn from self psychological and intersubjective systems theory and infant-caregiver research crafted across time. Standing on the shoulders of Winnicott's (1960, p. 150) concept of false self, a condition wherein others “expectations become of overriding importance … robbing one of spontaneous, authentic aliveness,” he tells us pathological accommodation involves “patients in whom the awareness of inner experience is not allowed a central role in determining and defining the sense of self or the generation of behavior” (p. 113).

Refreshing and expanding our understanding, Brandchaft et al. illuminate contemporary theoretical underpinnings.

[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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