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Waugaman, R.M. (2015). Myths of Termination: What Patients can Teach Psychoanalysts About Endings. By Judy Leopold Kantrowitz. New York: Routledge, 2015, xvi + 172 pp., $189.00 hardcover, $49.95 paperback. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 63(5):1047-1052.

(2015). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 63(5):1047-1052

Myths of Termination: What Patients can Teach Psychoanalysts About Endings. By Judy Leopold Kantrowitz. New York: Routledge, 2015, xvi + 172 pp., $189.00 hardcover, $49.95 paperback

Review by:
Richard M. Waugaman

We are all in Judy Kantrowitz's debt for this splendid reexamination of traditional accounts of psychoanalytic termination. She writes that the “discrepancy between idealized expectations and assumptions about termination as summarized in the literature and clinicians' descriptions of their actual experiences with patients was the stimulus for my project” (p. 23). As in her previous research, she approaches this topic empirically. To counterbalance the past focus on the analyst's perspective on this issue, Kantrowitz spent one to two hours interviewing each of eighty-two people about their reactions to their terminated analyses. These interviews took place from anywhere between a few months to many decades after their analyses ended.

Since a positive treatment outcome correlates more with the patient's assessment of the quality of the treatment alliance than with the analyst's, Kantrowitz's focus is valuable. She chose not to interview these patients' analysts, and she acknowledges repeatedly that those analysts might have quite different perspectives than do their patients. Persuasively, she holds that a more accurate picture of termination will emerge from synthesizing patients' and analysts' viewpoints.

How representative is Kantrowitz's sample? She considers this question repeatedly. She assumes these eighty-two people probably had intense feelings—positive or negative—that were not fully expressed or resolved in their analyses, and which they wanted to share with Kantrowitz and her readers. Nearly 60 percent of these analyses ended unilaterally, which is consistent with her assumption. She asks us to take the patients' accounts seriously, but not to overgeneralize from them. The majority of research subjects expressed gratitude for having felt helped by their analyses.

[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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