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Vida, J.E. (2015). Living Psychoanalysis: From Theory to Experience, by Michael Parsons, Routledge, London and New York, 2014, 263+xxiipp.. Am. J. Psychoanal., 75(3):335-338.

(2015). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 75(3):335-338

Living Psychoanalysis: From Theory to Experience, by Michael Parsons, Routledge, London and New York, 2014, 263+xxiipp.

Review by:
Judith E. Vida, M.D.

Michael Parsons is a key member of the Group of Independent Psychoanalysts within the British Psychoanalytic Society, an inspiring teacher, and a clinician of rare poetics, inventiveness, and humility. He has assembled a library of lived experience, both within the field and without, which nourishes and informs his “internal analytic setting” (p. 153 ff), a hallmark concept emerging from seminars he led with a colleague to encourage the fledgling autonomy of newly qualified analysts. This is his second book, drawing upon papers and lectures of the last decade or so; it follows the format of an earlier volume (Parsons, 2000a). Taken together, both books chart his professional journey over some 30 years (Parsons, 1986).

The papers are not merely collected; each forms the basis of a chapter that has, to varying extents, been revisited, reflected upon, and re-imagined from its original. Michael Parsons' distinctive authorial voice is quite audible, and with a “right now” immediacy. Despite some lengthy passages of exposition in the early chapters, there is an aliveness to this writing that, to my relief, made it well worth my commitment to read every word (and some of them twice).

“To my relief” requires a disclosure that I no longer read anything “psychoanalytic”; I find most of it too desiccated or too far removed from my own living experience in and out of the consulting room, and I am finally old enough to sidestep the shoulds.

[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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