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Waugaman, R.M. (2003). The Dream Interpreters: A Psychoanalytic Novel in Verse. By Howard Shevrin. New York: International Universities Press, 2003, xix + 375 pp., $34.95 paper.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 51(4):1420-1424.

(2003). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 51(4):1420-1424

The Dream Interpreters: A Psychoanalytic Novel in Verse. By Howard Shevrin. New York: International Universities Press, 2003, xix + 375 pp., $34.95 paper.

Review by:
Richard M. Waugaman

A psychoanalytic novel in verse? Come again? Wait, don't leave—this is the best psychoanalytic novel in verse I have ever read. Okay, the only one. But it is breathtakingly good. Except for those whose masochistic streaks have been insufficiently analyzed, I would predict that all readers of this journal will enjoy it immensely. So don't be put off by the poetry—read this book!

The novel takes place in the 1960s, in a psychiatric institution fictionally moved eastward to Tennessee. The seven sections describe seven sessions of each of seven analyses, including three training analyses; two characters take the role of patient in one section, and analyst in another. Why seven? Maybe the week of the Creation story, with no day of rest? Shevrin takes us inside the mind of each patient and analyst, writing perceptively and movingly about the complexities of their work together. Each section enthralls with its own deftly depicted drama. But several unifying strands link each analysis to a larger whole, adding cohesion, mutually reflecting perspectives, and (all too often) a dollop of craziness to the analytic enterprise. Shevrin explains that “The politics surrounding [the search for a new director of research for the institution] weave in and out of the seven psychoanalyses that comprise the main action” (p. xix).

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