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If you know the bibliographic details of a journal article, use the Journal Section to find it quickly. First, find and click on the Journal where the article was published in the Journal tab on the home page. Then, click on the year of publication. Finally, look for the author’s name or the title of the article in the table of contents and click on it to see the article.

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Gers, S. (1989). Psychotherapy. Portraits in Fiction: Edited by Jesse D. Geller, Ph.D. and Paul D. Spector, M.A. Northvale, NJ/London: Jason Aronson, Inc., 1987. 302 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 58:679-681.

(1989). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 58:679-681

Psychotherapy. Portraits in Fiction: Edited by Jesse D. Geller, Ph.D. and Paul D. Spector, M.A. Northvale, NJ/London: Jason Aronson, Inc., 1987. 302 pp.

Review by:
Seymour Gers

The title of this book somehow elicited the expectation that it would consist of more than a collection of excerpts from nineteen stories about psychotherapy by seventeen different authors. In their very concise two-page introduction, the editors note that there is a dearth of good descriptions in the professional literature of the unique nature of psychotherapy. They have turned to the fiction writer to "make palpable the atmosphere, rhythm, nuances and tensions of the psychotherapeutic experience" (p. ix). They thus rely upon sensitive professional writers to capture what seems to elude more technically knowledgeable authors.

The editors state that the idea for this anthology was prompted by reading "My Love Has Dirty Fingernails" by John Updike. They then sought out other stories capturing "the feel" of an actual therapeutic relationship. They found that hundreds of such stories had been published. Despite the variety of therapies heralded in the media, almost all the published fiction describing ambulatory therapy in their survey concerned psychoanalytically oriented office practice. They note that their selections neither make a case for the effectiveness of therapy nor present an idealized image of the therapist. Although some excerpts depict successful therapy, some reflect difficulties and failures, as well as the potential destructiveness of psychotherapy, while some describe the shortcomings of therapists. They point out that the stories focus on neurotic and character problems of patients seeking treatment and do not deal with such things as psychotic symptomatology.

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