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Danziger, R. (2016). Living Psychoanalysis: From theory to experience by Michael Parsons Routledge, Hove, 2014; 286 pp; £30.99. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 97(6):1709-1713.

(2016). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 97(6):1709-1713

Book and Journal Reviews

Living Psychoanalysis: From theory to experience by Michael Parsons Routledge, Hove, 2014; 286 pp; £30.99

Review by:
Renée Danziger

In the Introduction to Living Psychoanalysis: From theory to experience, Michael Parsons sets out his hope that “the reader finishing the book will be different from the one that began it”. It seems that he will achieve this aim with his creative and thought-provoking book which addresses key questions about psychoanalytic theory and technique, as well as issues that are at the very heart of how we live our lives.

Living Psychoanalysis is divided into four sections, each comprising three or four chapters. With just two exceptions, the chapters derive from papers previously written (although not necessarily published) or from talks given by Parsons over the past 15 or so years. Given that the talks took place in seven different countries, and that only four of the papers were previously published in English, most readers are likely to find a considerable amount of new material in the book.

Although originally written for different audiences, Parsons regards the 13 papers that the chapters are based on as being linked in important ways; taken together, they reflect a dynamic which might be considered a hallmark of Parsons' work. It is represented in the book's narrative arc, described by Parsons as a “double movement”: on the one hand chapters move from the general (questions about what it means to be ‘creatively alive’) to the specific (questions about technique and training); on the other hand, he says, they move from specifically psychoanalytic concerns (what it means to psychoanalysts to be creatively alive), to broader questions of how we as humans can achieve our greatest potential as creative, alive people.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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