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Goldberg, A. (2005). Psychoanalytic Empathy. By Stefano Bolognini, M.D. Translated by Malcolm Garfield. London: Free Association Books, 2004. 191 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 74(2):609-611.

(2005). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 74(2):609-611

Psychoanalytic Empathy. By Stefano Bolognini, M.D. Translated by Malcolm Garfield. London: Free Association Books, 2004. 191 pp.

Review by:
Arnold Goldberg

Having sat through a woefully unsatisfactory film documentary on “Empathy” (that was the title) and waded through a learned treatise on empathy in animals that declared that empathy was a phylogenetically continuous phenomenon (whatever that may mean), I approached the book titled Psychoanalytic Empathy with a bit of dyspepsia. However, like the ad for Alka-Seltzer used to say, I received instant relief. This brief treatise is a delight. Bolognini manages to make it clear that empathy for psychoanalysts demands a clarity and complexity that is too easily lost by the twin sirens of popularity and biology. In doing so, he presents both a clear definition and a host of clinical examples that capture the sense of empathy, one that seems very peculiar and even restricted to psychoanalytic work.

First, the definition:

Empathy is a condition of conscious and preconscious contact characterized by separateness, complexity, and a linked structure, a wide perceptual spectrum including every color in the emotional palette, from the lightest to the darkest; above all, it constitutes a progressive, shared, and deep contact with the complementarity of the object, with the other's defensive ego and split-off parts, no less than the other's ego-syntonic subjectivity. [p.

[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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