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Akhtar, S. (1996). Subjects of Analysis. By Thomas Ogden. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson. 1994. Pp. 230.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 77:625-628.

(1996). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 77:625-628

Subjects of Analysis. By Thomas Ogden. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson. 1994. Pp. 230.

Review by:
Salman Akhtar

After a period of relative intellectual stagnation, North American psychoanalysis is experiencing a new vigour (Cooper, 1983). Kernberg's integration of Kleinian ideas with contemporary ego-psychology, Kohut's founding of self-psychology, growing interest in the British and French schools, rediscovery of Ferenczi and Sullivan, enrichment of psychoanalytic developmental hypotheses by infant observational research, empirical investigations regarding the process and efficacy of clinical psychoanalysis and an overall atmosphere of theoretical openmindedness mark this rejuvenation. The intersubjective critique of the ‘classical’ model's positivistic tradition is the newest arrival on this exciting scene.

In the intersubjective approach it is asserted that psychic phenomena cannot be understood in isolation from their interpersonal matrix. Far from being discrete entities within the patient's psyche, mental events are dialectically constructed experiences, specific and idiosyncratic to a particular interpersonal situation or clinical interaction. Each glimpse of a patient's psychic reality is therefore contextual. It is inevitably coloured by the analyst's subjectivity which, in turn, is open to influence by the patient's inner experience. The attempt to unmask a psychic reality of the patient that is independent of a particular analytic interaction is therefore ‘epistemologically misguided’ (Dunn, 1995p. 724) and clinically inadequate. Countertransference is not a technical error or impediment to clinical work.

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