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Silverman, M.A. (2003). Rethinking Clinical Technique. By Fred Busch, Ph.D. Northvale, NJ/London: Aronson, 1999. 218 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 72(3):807-817.

(2003). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 72(3):807-817

Rethinking Clinical Technique. By Fred Busch, Ph.D. Northvale, NJ/London: Aronson, 1999. 218 pp.

Review by:
Martin A. Silverman

This is one of the most stimulating books on psychoanalytic technique I have read. I recommend it wholeheartedly. It is clear, concise, cogent, eminently readable, and of true practical import. Fred Busch, a very thoughtful, articulate psychoanalytic clinician and educator, presents his views crisply and parsimoniously. He gets to the point promptly—and he stays there. Unlike many didactic authors, furthermore, he backs up his views with plentiful, rich clinical data, from his own practice, so that the reader can see what he actually does in the course of his work. If only more psychoanalytic writers would do that!

Busch brings what I might term a functional ego psychological perspective to psychoanalytic technique, and he does so in two ways. First and foremost, he emphasizes that we are most useful to our analysands when we facilitate ego growth, rather than using our own ego capacities to provide insight into their neurotic conflicts. Showing off our knowledge and our brilliance is not nearly so helpful as assisting the patient to utilize his or her own ego capacities to look, learn, and grow. He urges us to respect the greater value of promoting the growth of autonomous ego functioning over providing insight from an external source. “A key goal of the psychoanalytic method,” he states, “is the expansion of the ego, so that previously hidden fears and fantasies that dictated its activities as predictably as the moon's gravitational pull upon the tide are now knowable, leading to the inevitability of action being replaced by the possibility of reflection” (p. 14). He militates against “systematic traumatization of the ego's emerging autonomous function” (p.

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