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Zuckerman, J.R. (2015). The Therapeutic Situation in the 21st Century, by Mark Leffert, Routledge, New York, 2013, 288pp.. Am. J. Psychoanal., 75(1):115-118.

(2015). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 75(1):115-118

The Therapeutic Situation in the 21st Century, by Mark Leffert, Routledge, New York, 2013, 288pp.

Review by:
Janet Rivkin Zuckerman, Ph.D.

Mark Leffert has given us much to reflect upon and respond to with his new text The Therapeutic Situation in the 21st Century. He aims to offer “… a rudimentary textbook of clinical psychoanalysis in a different language” (p. xi), one that is cleansed of metapsychology. There is much of value in Leffert's new work, owing principally to his erudition, interdisciplinary approach and thoroughness. I appreciate his determination to push beyond his orthodox background and, as he likes to say, the hagiography that still surrounds Freud in certain circles. I question at times, however, his adherence to the postmodern perspective he espouses, particularly notions of unknowability, uncertainty and subjectivity. Here I will highlight areas where I feel he loses this thread and also offer an interpersonal/relational response. Two points seem worthy of mention preliminarily: Leffert (2007) takes pains in this work and elsewhere to sharply differentiate his postmodern stance from an interpersonal/relational perspective; and, unlike Leffert who was largely educated as Freudian (p. 247, f. 197), my training occurred during the rise of the interpersonal/relational school.

Leffert labels his own work subversive—“This is not a safe book” - (p. xiii), and from its inception we understand why. He works hard to differentiate himself from extant theorists and does so at times with a dollop of stridency. Though I appreciate his questioning of existing ideas and creativity in birthing new ones, I was sometimes distracted by his positivistic tone, which he often condemns in others—“… most of the writing in this area tends to suffer from excessive and unwarranted certainty” (p.

[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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