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Atkins, N.B. (1991). The Analytic Experience: Lectures from the Tavistock: By Neville Symington. London: Free Association Books, 1986, 348 pp., $29.95.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 39:798-801.

(1991). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 39:798-801

The Analytic Experience: Lectures from the Tavistock: By Neville Symington. London: Free Association Books, 1986, 348 pp., $29.95.

Review by:
Norman B. Atkins, M.D.

Neville Symington in The Analytic Experience offers an unusual way of presenting the theory and technique of psychoanalysis from a historical perspective. The historical approach is in itself not new or unique. What is different, and what interested this reviewer, was the author's way of presenting analysis from his strongly subjective point of view. He feels that becoming a psychoanalyst and functioning as one is so highly personal and idiosyncratic that it is futile and mistaken to attempt to try to objectify it.

This book is based on lectures given to seminar groups of mental health professionals at the Tavistock Clinic in London for seven successive years in the 1970's and early 1980's. The author intends the book to impart some of the flavor of the analytic experience, treating only those aspects of theory or technique which have a personal resonance for him. He describes the work of those early psychoanalytic pioneers who became significant figures in the development of analysis and some of his own teachers who made significant contributions to the field. He then recounts his own personal experiences and clinical work insofar as he has been influenced by their ideas. At times it may be difficult for the reader to separate Symington's ideas from those of the theorists who inspired him. However, this appears to be the way Symington wishes the reader to understand these major contributors, that is, as processed by Symington himself.

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