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Crowley, R.M. (1982). The Psychoanalytic Dialogue: Stanley A. Leavy, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1980, xv + 126 pp., $.12.00.. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 10(3):490-492.

(1982). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 10(3):490-492

The Psychoanalytic Dialogue: Stanley A. Leavy, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1980, xv + 126 pp., $.12.00.

Review by:
Ralph M. Crowley, M.D.

In reading this provocative essay, I experienced having a dialogue with Dr. Leavy, a dialogue in which I felt no withholding on his part. His discussions go far beyond the scope of his modest, but Socratic-sounding title, which rightly exemplifies the view that psychoanalysis is communication between two people, both explicit and implicit. The ways in which Leavy conceives of the psychoanalytic dialogue are far-reaching.

Psychoanalytic dialogue for Leavy is not an archeological excavation, but rather a dialectical exchange between people. Such a free-flowing exchange yields unintended meanings; it is a way of exploring the unconscious. The emphasis on meaning through the use of language precludes the usefulness of the libido theory, instincts, or other analogical energetic constructs, or any metapsychology based on them. In no sense, however, does Leavy abandon Freud. On the contrary, he tends to show that, in effect, Freud abandoned himself in his continuing creativity. One example is when Freud abandoned his theory of anxiety as the result of repressed libido for his second theory of anxiety as a signal.

Leavy writes of psychoanalysis in terms of experience and memories of experience, and openly embraces a phenomenological view of people, as contrasted with an energetic one. He agrees with Ricoeur that psychoanalysis is interpretation from beginning to end. Interpretation is the discovery of meaning and intention. He believes thoroughly in the reality of the inner, mental, subjective world, as well as in the outer.

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