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Urdang, E. (2018). Understanding and Treating Patients in Clinical Psychoanalysis: Lessons from Literature: , by Buechler, S. (2015). London, UK; New York, NY: Routledge, 140 pp., $44.95 (paperback).. Psychoanal. Soc. Work, 25(2):144-147.
    

(2018). Psychoanalytic Social Work, 25(2):144-147

Book Review

Understanding and Treating Patients in Clinical Psychoanalysis: Lessons from Literature: , by Buechler, S. (2015). London, UK; New York, NY: Routledge, 140 pp., $44.95 (paperback).

Esther Urdang, PhD, LICSW

Sandra Buechler is a gifted writer and an experienced psychoanalyst whose engaging style draws the reader into her book. Utilizing excerpts from short stories, she illustrates specific characterological coping styles, such as schizoid relating and paranoid processing, and then discusses treatment for these. Her therapy uses a relational model; it is the relationship itself that produces change. She asks, “Who does the clinician need to be in order to help someone with this coping style?… the personhood of the clinician is a key factor in treatment” (pp. 2–3).

She focuses “on the way people grapple with their troubles… I try to get at the heart of what it means to cope with life using paranoid… defensive patterns” (p. 2). As each characterological style produces emotional reactions in clinicians, self-awareness and utilization of intersubjectivity are essential to her therapy. In treating obsessives, one's “own obsessive devices” may be activated, “… perfecting theories about the patient, while real life goes by” (p. 93). Stimulated by the fictional characters, she sometimes speculates as to how she might treat them, but focuses more often on her own clinical experiences rather than the treatment complexities presented by those characters.

An excellent illustration of applying treatment to a fictional character is her discussion of Bessie, a “terrified old woman” in I. B. Singer's “The Key” (1999).

[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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