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Gomberg, R. (2015). Therapeutic Action: Disordered Thought and Development: Chaos to Organization in the Moment. By Theodore Fallon Jr., with Susan P. Sherkow. Lanham, MD: Jason Aronson, 2014, xx + 87 pp., $70.00 hardcover.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 63(1):155-162.

(2015). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 63(1):155-162

Book Reviews

Therapeutic Action: Disordered Thought and Development: Chaos to Organization in the Moment. By Theodore Fallon Jr., with Susan P. Sherkow. Lanham, MD: Jason Aronson, 2014, xx + 87 pp., $70.00 hardcover.

Review by:
Richard Gomberg

What actually changes in psychoanalysis, and how? Theodore Fallon has written a short book (a monograph really) offering answers to these questions. Fallon, a child analyst, epidemiologist, and internist, directs the child and adolescent training program at the Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia. His thinking clearly comes out of his work with children with significant disturbances. But Fallon does not simply claim that he has found a way to help severely disturbed patients through psychoanalysis. His goal is to advance a theory of therapeutic action that will apply to all development, one that will help us understand the important growth that occurs in psychoanalysis. In this brief book he presents a theory that integrates his psychoanalytic ideas with his reading of the attachment literature, his ideas about affect management, and his understanding of nonlinear dynamic systems theory.

Fallon lays out his argument in his introduction. His contention is that development is forced when an individual faces something new that cannot be accommodated within the mind's existing organization. He offers a classic example: “Consider the pre-oedipal child who suddenly realizes that in addition to having a relationship with her mother and father, there is also a relationship between her mother and her father that does not include her. Suddenly she recognizes that her pre-oedipal model of the universe is limited” (pp. 1-2). This new realization throws into question the existing model, which until now has provided purpose and direction. A new model will have to be built. It will have to include the old understanding, but also incorporate the new information. Central to Fallon's argument is his contention that even in a successfully developing individual, for this reorganization to take place the current structure of the mind will have to undergo a transient disorganization.

[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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