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Post, S.L. (1992). What is Effective in Psychoanalytic Therapy: The Move from Interpretation to Relation: By W. W. Meissner. Northvale, NJ, and London: Jason Aronson. 1991. Pp. 217.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 73:778-780.

(1992). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 73:778-780

What is Effective in Psychoanalytic Therapy: The Move from Interpretation to Relation: By W. W. Meissner. Northvale, NJ, and London: Jason Aronson. 1991. Pp. 217.

Review by:
Stephen L. Post

The elegance of this volume lies in its combination of comprehensiveness and succinctness: with remarkably few words and in clear and simple terms the author reviews and appraises the evolution of psychoanalytic theories of therapy and their notions of what is, in James Strachey's language, mutative—or, to use Meissner's larger concept, effective.

To begin with, we are given Strachey's 1934 masterpiece, 'The nature of the therapeutic action of psychoanalysis', in its entirety. Inasmuch as Strachey was the first to identify interpretation as the specific mutative agency in analytic therapy, inclusion of his article gives us the definitive statement of that viewpoint; but it is equally felicitous as a way of summarizing the progress of theories of therapy up until Strachey's time.

Meissner then alludes to theories which have developed subsequently—ego psychology, object relations theory, self psychology, and developmental theory in particular, each with its own perspectives and contributions. Taken together, he suggests, they have moved us away from a narrow preoccupation with interpretation and 'toward a probing of those background conditions that are necessary for the therapeutic process to bring about effective change … Even if interpretation is the process by which understanding is achieved and insight generated, that process takes place within a relational matrix that both colors the interpretive process and provides those elements that make the process viable and meaningful' (p.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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