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Sander, F.M. (1984). Couples in Collusion: By Jürg Willi. Translated by Walia Inayat-Khan and Mariusz Tchorek. New York/London: Jason Aronson, Inc., 1982. 265 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 53:139-143.

(1984). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 53:139-143

Couples in Collusion: By Jürg Willi. Translated by Walia Inayat-Khan and Mariusz Tchorek. New York/London: Jason Aronson, Inc., 1982. 265 pp.

Review by:
Fred M. Sander

In the 1980 preface to the United States edition of this book, originally published in German in 1976, the author makes the generalization that the psychotherapist in America asks in relation to a clinical problem, "What can we do about it?," while the European prefers the question, "How can we understand this?" It is the first of innumerable, unsupported generalizations that make this book all but unreadable. This is unfortunate, because the central thesis of the book is intriguing, highly relevant, and certainly worth further exploration.

In the same preface, Willi states that the aim of the book is to synthesize the essentially interpersonal perspective of American family therapy with the psychoanalytic, by implication, European approach. Reviewing this book for an American journal is especially difficult because a third of the bibliography refers to untranslated German writings, and the author is unfamiliar with American psychoanalytic writings and with the contributions of analytically oriented family therapists in the United States. For example, his understanding of early child development (e.g., the oral stage) is based upon his reading of Erik Erikson and George Engel; he is apparently unfamiliar with the work of Margaret Mahler, whose writings on the separation-individuation process, derived in part from the observations of interpersonal behavior, has special relevance to the particular clinical focus of this book.

Willi begins his book with his own experimental research into the differential responses of marital subjects to the Rorschach test, administered individually and jointly.

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