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Hyun, A. (2016). The possible profession: The analytic process of change by Theodore J. Jacobs Routledge, New York, 2013; 326 pp; $ 45.40. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 97(6):1713-1716.

(2016). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 97(6):1713-1716

The possible profession: The analytic process of change by Theodore J. Jacobs Routledge, New York, 2013; 326 pp; $ 45.40

Review by:
Aerin Hyun

At the very end of his 19 chapter tour de force, the author describes asking colleagues 15 years after their graduation from psychoanalytic training what they most remembered about their training analyses. Very few, if any, recalled specific interpretations, with most recalling small acts of kindness and care by their analysts that were outside the box of the usual interventional mode. Above all, they remembered the relationship itself.

It made me wonder what I would remember long after having read this book. There is much from which to choose, as Dr. Jacobs ambitiously weaves together genres of autobiography, intellectual history of psychoanalysis and clinical applications as well as case materials. He sets out to examine ways in which unconscious communications occur in sessions between analyst and patient, constantly flowing beneath the surface of dialogue. In doing so, he draws upon clinical experience in order to make this possible, as well as to tap into these communications from various angles and theoretical perspectives, both conventional and not.

The range of topics in this book is considerable and examined from multiple perspectives, including ego psychology, Kleinian and object relations theory, self psychology, intersubjectivity, parent infant research studies, mentalization and even Lacanian theory. Case examples have been chosen to highlight what the author has found helpful and not so helpful. He does not pull any punches about mistakes made or regrets experienced: “I tell the story not to prove the correctness of my views, but to raise for consideration certain questions” (p. 168). This attitude sets the tone for the book and is what kept me reading to the very end.

The first section (of three), ‘Interaction and the inner world’, makes a case, employing Jacobs' considerable experiences as both analytic patient and analyst, for paying close attention to the interpersonal and intrapsychic aspects of the analytic experience. By interpersonal, he clarifies that he refers not to the relational psychology of Sullivan, but to the Freudian emphasis on “the complex transaction that takes place between individuals, the psychology behind such transactions, and their effect on individual psyches” (p. 8).

[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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