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Dann, O.T. (1989). Clinical Empathy: By David M. Berger, M.D. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, Inc., 1987. 294 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 58:160-163.

(1989). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 58:160-163

Clinical Empathy: By David M. Berger, M.D. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, Inc., 1987. 294 pp.

Review by:
O. Townsend Dann

This book could be subtitled A Psychotherapist's Guide to Psychoanalysis and Self Psychology. The first third of the book consists of a theoretical elucidation of the difference between classical psychoanalysis and self psychology (deficiency/parental failure theory) from the point of view of empathy, with occasional explicit attention paid to object relations theory. Berger clearly, if sometimes laboriously, differentiates between the self-responsibility of psychoanalytic theory, for which he uses the term agency, and the other-responsibility of self psychology, for which he uses the term victimization. His presentation of psychoanalytic theory, in general, seems a little dated; his presentation of self psychology seems rather idiosyncratic.

There is an interesting historical review of the development of the traditional concept of empathy. The author postulates that affective resonance, inference, and generalization play more important roles in the development of empathy than do identification and projection. The capacity to tolerate puzzlement, to resist needing to know, contributes to empathy. Although Berger indicates that empathy contains a cognitive component, he regards it as primarily a function of the experiencing ego which facilitates the establishment of close emotional contact with the patient. Intuition, a function of the observing ego, does the same in the realm of ideas. Empathy takes time to develop. Berger quotes Gide: "Do not know me too quickly."

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