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Rush, S. (2000). Gaslighting, the Double Whammy, Interrogation, and other Methods of Covert Control in Psychotherapy and Analysis: Theo L. Dorpat. Northvale, NJ/London: Aronson, 1996. 278 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 69(4):811-816.

(2000). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 69(4):811-816

Gaslighting, the Double Whammy, Interrogation, and other Methods of Covert Control in Psychotherapy and Analysis: Theo L. Dorpat. Northvale, NJ/London: Aronson, 1996. 278 pp.

Review by:
Stephen Rush

In this work, Dorpat sets out to rescue psychoanalysis and psychotherapy from the temptation to take covert control over the patient's mental life. Most often, such domination enters the consulting room unrecognized. There are, of course, some psychotherapeutic systems, such as behavior modification, in which control and shaping behavior are not bad words, but avowed objectives. However, in psychoanalytic therapies, freedom of thought is a most valued element. Yet even in the analytic therapies, Dorpat demonstrates how subtly, yet powerfully, covert control and indoctrination do occur—and how commonly.

The author's deep conviction and concern are apparent in his writing, and the book delivers a caveat for even the most seasoned of psychoanalysts. Part of his thesis is that the essence of psychoanalysis is its method. It is a beautiful method, making it possible for patients to have the freedom to discover and get to know their inner world of experience, so that they can understand how they construct their reality and who they really are. All methods of control and domination are antithetical to that essence. Moreover, the exercise of power and indoctrination is a violation of an individual's personal dignity and humanity, whether in psychotherapy or in everyday life. As such an exercise of power enters therapeutic work, the patient becomes compliant to being controlled and loses touch with the creativity of the dreaming mind.

In my opinion, psychoanalysis is particularly vulnerable to the development of relationships in which power can take the shape of what Dorpat calls the gaslighting situation.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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