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Eckardt, M.H. (2004). Freeing the Human Spirit: A Psychiatrist's Journal, by Louis B. Fierman, Blue Dolphin Publishing, Nevada City, CA, 208 pp., $24.95.. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 32(4):720-722.

(2004). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 32(4):720-722

Freeing the Human Spirit: A Psychiatrist's Journal, by Louis B. Fierman, Blue Dolphin Publishing, Nevada City, CA, 208 pp., $24.95.

Review by:
Marianne Horney Eckardt, M.D.

Edited by:
Joseph P. Merlino, M.D., M.P.A. and César A. Alfonso, M.D.

In our present climate, the belief in the value of psychotherapy needs to be encouraged. Fierman does just that. He transmits a spirit of confidence in our therapeutic activity by telling the stories of 21cases. This spirit was kindled by his contact with Hellmuth Kaiser, and is best conveyed in his own words: “Hellmuth Kaiser taught me that psychotherapists need not regard their work as work but rather, in a sense, as play, an enjoyable encounter with a fellow human being. This is not to ignore … the therapist's full responsibility for the conduct or outcome of psychotherapy, but rather to emphasize the quality of spontaneity, openness and sharing, that characterizes the communicativeintimacy offered by the therapist to the patient in effective psychotherapy” (p. ix). The stories in the book exemplify “the joy and drama” of doing therapy.

Kaiser, originally trained in classical psychoanalysis, broke with the psychoanalytic establishment to develop his own mode of nondirective, interactive, here-and-now focused psychotherapy. Kaiser re-conceptualized the core psychotherapeutic task by replacing the concept of repression and the concept of making-the-unconscious-conscious-through-interpretation with a far more generalized notion that the basic symptom in psychological disorders is duplicity in communication. In therapy this duplicity is not directly challenged, it yields, however, to the direct, genuine, and spontaneous responses of the therapist in the process of the therapeutic interaction.

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