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Wanlass, J. (2016). Couple Dynamics: Psychoanalytic Perspectives in Work with the Individual, the Couple, and the Group, edited by Aleksandra Novakovic, Karnac, 2016. Cpl. Fam. Psychoanal., 6(2):218-220.
(2016). Couple and Family Psychoanalysis, 6(2):218-220
Couple Dynamics: Psychoanalytic Perspectives in Work with the Individual, the Couple, and the Group, edited by Aleksandra Novakovic, Karnac, 2016
Review by: Reviewed by Janine Wanlass, Ph.D.
A Wider Lens
In Couple Dynamics: Psychoanalytic Perspectives in Work with the Individual, the Couple, and the Group, Aleksandra Novakovic invites us to broaden our theoretical and clinical couple therapy lens by incorporating thinking about individual and group work to further our understanding of couples. While the chapter topics sound familiar—oedipal struggles, enactments, sharing space, transference manifestations, projective identification—the reader is invited to consider these traditional ideas from a new vantage point. In particular, the inclusion of Bion's concepts (1961) of group assumptions and group mentality as a way to conceptualise more chaotic, primitive interactions within couples and the consideration of couple dynamics within social groups and organisations, offer new insights about couple work.
Kernberg introduces this edited collection with a comprehensive discussion of the interplay between love and aggression in couples. The reader will note that his idea of the couple relationship is strikingly traditional and does not account for contemporary shifts in the fluidity of gender roles and types of couple relationships. However, one is captivated by his discussion of the discontinuity in relationships as a protective factor in titrating aggression, the function of twinship and oedipal fantasies, and the perverse manifestations of a primitive superego in sustained sadomasochistic relating.
Britton and Novakovic illustrate the challenges of treating primitively organised patients. Drawing from the realm of individual therapy, Britton describes the difficulty of sharing space. “Whether in marriage or analysis, the physical space we share is also psychic space. It is a room housing the mind of the other, and it is furnished by the thoughts of the other” (p. 30). Britton also describes two types of narcissistic patient: one where the analyst finds herself locked out of any meaningful contact with the patient's mind, and one where the analyst is sealed within the patient's psychic world without the ability to think or gain perspective.
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