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Burton, A. (2011). Psychodynamic Perspectives on Aging and Illness. By Tamara McClintock Greenberg. London/New York: Springer Dordrecht Heidelberg, 2009. 150 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 80(1):222-225.

(2011). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 80(1):222-225

Psychodynamic Perspectives on Aging and Illness. By Tamara McClintock Greenberg. London/New York: Springer Dordrecht Heidelberg, 2009. 150 pp.

Review by:
Anna Burton

This is a straightforward read, offered to present-day medical practitioners and mental health professionals to help with the art of treating older people. It examines this burgeoning population with a wide lens, taking in every feature, especially its impact on all the professionals providing therapy: psychiatrists, psychologists, internists, and neurologists, as well as nurses, caseworkers, and personal caregivers. The author addresses the technical and conceptual challenges, the major dynamics in these treatments, and the role of medical conditions. However, there is a companion purpose: it is Greenberg's particular wish to include and integrate “traditional psychoanalysis” into modern geriatric psychotherapy. She has more success with the first aim than with the second, due to the century-long evolution of psychoanalytic theory, and the need to grasp and package big ideas for readers with differing knowledge bases.

Like a consulting psychiatrist on a medical service, the book hovers between disciplines, favoring those words in our lexicon that seem to bridge the gap. One of those words is in the book's title. The term psychodynamic gives wide but thin coverage of psychoanalytic, psychotherapeutic, self, relational, and other psychologies, lightly surfing over the deep and salient features of each approach. Greenberg writes for a group she has named “psychodynamic clinicians.” She is certainly not alone in resorting to this catch-all modifier; psychodynamic is a term used to cover psychoanalytic psychotherapy, along with virtually any therapy that explores feelings.

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