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Malin, A. (1990). A Fresh Look at Psychoanalysis. The View from Self Psychology: By Arnold Goldberg, M.D. Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press, 1988. 275 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 59:457-460.

(1990). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 59:457-460

A Fresh Look at Psychoanalysis. The View from Self Psychology: By Arnold Goldberg, M.D. Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press, 1988. 275 pp.

Review by:
Arthur Malin

This book is a compilation of eighteen papers, nine of which have been published previously. They are organized into four sections: Theory, Empathy, Character, and Clinical Papers.

Goldberg states in his introduction that, with regard to self psychology, "The essays in this volume have been written on a course midway between unbridled enthusiasm and forlorn hollowness—with a lot of zigzags. They are offered as part of an effort that seems to be the natural heir of new ideas; the search for more" (p. xviii).

Goldberg views psychoanalysis from a self psychology perspective, but he expresses concern regarding certain trends which sometimes appear to encourage an "anything goes" approach to analytic work. Goldberg therefore presents his perspective on science in psychoanalytic self psychology. He insists, for instance, that empathy and empathic data gathering must be defined at the level of rigorous thinking and theory formation. "Anything" does not "go"; rather, careful study of the significance and meaning of the data is required in the self psychological approach.

Goldberg expresses his belief that we do not build clinical data into theories and then into values, as Waelder had urged. Goldberg states, "We start with our values and our theories, and only then can we see a fact" (p. x). He is particularly persuasive in describing how we are incapable of making observations without having some theoretical ideas. This is especially important since some analysts, including self psychologists, suggest that they work relatively free of theory, listening only to the subjective experience of the patient. They claim that through immersion in empathic understanding, interpretations can be made without resorting to theory. Goldberg disagrees. A somewhat similar situation occurs when some analysts warn against the use of inference. Goldberg points out that we constantly require inferences for the full awareness and elaboration of our theories, since it is impossible to obtain enough data only from the patient's subjective experiences.

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