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Covitz, H.H. Covitz, J.B. (2007). Practicing intersubjectively, Peter Buirski and coauthors, Jason Aronson, 2005, 173 pp.. Am. J. Psychoanal., 67(4):402-407.

(2007). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 67(4):402-407

Practicing intersubjectively, Peter Buirski and coauthors, Jason Aronson, 2005, 173 pp.

Review by:
Howard H. Covitz, Ph.D.

Jessica B. Covitz

Donna Orange reports the “major honor” (p. xii) it was for her to be asked to write a forward to a work such as Peter Buirski's Practicing Inter-subjectively that engages her previous works and those of her collaborators,1 and like-minded colleagues. This novel intersubjectivist viewpoint that grew largely in the works of Stolorow, Atwood and Orange, reconceptualizes the treatment process as the “dialogic and relational search for understanding” between the two protagonists of the analytic dyad. Comments by Aron, Lichtenberg and Stolorow from the back cover of Practicing Intersubjectively echo Orange's praise for Buirski's volume and we two reviewers, each from our own perspective, do indeed appreciate this well-written volume, rich, as it is, with multidimensional clinical examples, that phenomenologically describes intersubjective treatment. Buirski, early on, describes the intersubjective view (p. 17):

While the analytic pair may never be able to sort out all the possible meanings associated with any analytic exchange, we believe that fundamentally analysis is the process of making sense together of the analytic experience, and not of figuring out the patient… (it is) about exploring and expanding worlds of personal experience rather than finding and interpreting dynamic truths about the operations of an isolated mind.

As readers, we approached Buirski's volume with a sympathetic ear. While growing up in training environments separated by some 30 years, we2 both are comfortable in thinking that each therapeutic dyad is unique and that different dyads will undoubtedly precipitate differing results—producing not necessarily better or worse, but fundamentally different therapeutic outcomes.

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