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Williams, P. (1999). De la pratique analytique [On analytic practice]: Thierry Bokanowski. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France—Epitres. 1998. Pp. 172. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 80(3):608-610.

(1999). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 80(3):608-610

De la pratique analytique [On analytic practice]: Thierry Bokanowski. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France—Epitres. 1998. Pp. 172

Review by:
Paul Williams

Sometimes, the genre of a book can evoke interest over and above its content, particularly if the book is from a culture other than one's own. Thierry Bokanowski's De la pratique analytique is one such example; a paperback from the well-known Paris publishing house PUF, which carries a title that has no precise equivalent in English. The difficulty with an English translation of the French title—‘On analytic practice’—is that it falls short of the multiple meanings intended in the French, inviting too much emphasis on practical issues such as physical surroundings, logistics etc. Perhaps the closest equivalent to ‘pratique’ is the Greek praxis—the personal articulation of a discipline or body of knowledge. Interestingly, the Old French meaning of ‘pratique’ is intercourse or correspondence (in the late sixteenth century a ‘pratique’ was a licence granted to a ship ‘to hold intercourse with a port, on showing a clean bill of health’).

Bokanowski tackles, if not the gamut of intercourse and correspondence between psychoanalyst and patient, then a considerable slice of it—an enterprise that would seem hardly conceivable in such a short text. However, his use of relaxed clear language to convey a range of analytic corcepts that are portrayed as conceptual and cultural ‘givens’ offers a clue to the fact that this work is idiosyncratic, whilst at the same time it is situated within an established theoretical and technical orientation of the French analytic tradition. It is a text written on behalf of a certain kind of readership from a particular cultural milieu. Having determined this much of the context, it is possible to read the book with interest and to acquire a useful perspective on French psychoanalysis, which is skilfully conveyed.

Bokanowski's book contains an introduction, five chapters and a conclusion. Chapter one is a historical overview of the origins and evolution of classical analytic technique, developments that were founded upon and inextricably tied to Freud's discovery of the transference relationship.

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