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Friedman, H.J. (2015). Forgiveness in Intimate Relationships: A Psychoanalytic Perspective, by Shahrzad Siassi, Karnac, London, 2013, 186pp.. Am. J. Psychoanal., 75(3):338-341.

(2015). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 75(3):338-341

Forgiveness in Intimate Relationships: A Psychoanalytic Perspective, by Shahrzad Siassi, Karnac, London, 2013, 186pp.

Review by:
Henry J. Friedman, M.D.

Books by psychoanalysts meant to reach a broader reading public usually have titles that promise insight into subjects like love, power, fantasy and feelings. While written by individuals with knowledge of psychoanalytic theory, they usually avoid forays into theory by removing psychoanalytic jargon and technical language. In her book, Forgiveness in Intimate Relationships, Shahrzad Siassi has taken a subject that sounds like it will be treated as an examination of a general phenomenon for the educated reader, a more or less popular “trade book.” While this may be what readers will expect they will instead find a thoroughly psychoanalytic examination of forgiveness that is based upon the author's psychoanalytic perspective, a perspective that brilliantly synthesizes a number of psychoanalytic theories. Her writing is clear and convincing as she builds a picture of how in her psychoanalytic work she has come to conclude that in a successful psychoanalysis forgiveness leads to the needed re-establishment of internalized objects particularly when the historical conditions of relatedness prior to a disappointment or narcissistic injury have been met.

The structure of this book invites the reader to join the author as she clarifies what she means by forgiveness and how integral it is to vision of a successful treatment. To do this she begins by extricating forgiveness in the psychoanalytic sense from any religious or spiritual meaning. Her central idea is that forgiveness that is consciously sought by the forgiver is something quite different than forgiveness that emerges in the course of a psychoanalytic treatment.

[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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