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Ryz, P. (2014). What is This Thing Called Love? A Guide to Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy with Couples, Sarah Fels Usher, Routledge, 2008. Cpl. Fam. Psychoanal., 4(2):215-217.

(2014). Couple and Family Psychoanalysis, 4(2):215-217

What is This Thing Called Love? A Guide to Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy with Couples, Sarah Fels Usher, Routledge, 2008

Review by:
Patsy Ryz

As stated on the back cover, this book is “a clear how-to guide on the art of psychotherapy with couples”. The illustration on the front—a couple caught up in a bubble-like sphere—is reminiscent of Chagall and his hazy, dreamlike depictions that seem to blur internal and external reality. But, unlike the figures in Chagall's paintings, this couple's expression seems more troubled. Their eyes are focused in an unblinking stare on a red rose that appears to be shedding some of its petals, perhaps conveying the inevitable de-idealisation of the other that so often brings couples into therapy.

The book is written in an accessible, storytelling style, with much warmth, and is sprinkled with interesting clinical vignettes. These concise, vivid accounts enliven both the text and the theoretical concepts being highlighted. Usher's use of language is worth noting, in that it often captures the essence of what is being described in a particularly striking way. There is also an abundance of humour, both in the text and in New Yorker cartoons that pepper the book, some of which made me laugh aloud, perhaps a reflection of the powerful way in which they convey well-recognised truisms about the complicated nature of intimate couple relationships.

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