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Ellman, S.J. (2000). Optimal Responsiveness: How Therapists Heal Their Patients: Howard Bacal. Northvale, NJ/London: Aronson, 1998, 384 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 69(3):568-574.

(2000). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 69(3):568-574

Optimal Responsiveness: How Therapists Heal Their Patients: Howard Bacal. Northvale, NJ/London: Aronson, 1998, 384 pp.

Review by:
Steven J. Ellman

Optimal Responsiveness: How Therapists Heal Their Patients is both a celebration of Bacal's contributions to psychoanalysis and self psychology and a substantial offering of interesting and challenging self psychological perspectives. Bacal is an exponent of the relational/self psychological perspective in psychoanalysis. His work is heavily influenced by Kohut, whose presence is felt throughout this volume. Of the seventeen chapters, four are authored (one coauthored) by Bacal, and, in addition, he prefaces each with a short introduction and commentary. The introductions are particularly useful, since Bacal skillfully ties together the themes of the present volume with his incisive introductions. Thus, the book has a unity not often found in edited editions. The other authors represented in the volume are by and large well-known self psychologists, and their contributions are also remarkably unified for this type of volume.

Bacal, in delineating the concept of optimal responsiveness, is constantly comparing his point of view with what he terms “classical psychoanalysis.”

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