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Bauer, S.F. (1996). How Psychotherapy Works: Process and Technique by Joseph Weiss New York: Guilford Press, 1993, xv + 224 pp., $27.95.. Psa. Books, 7(1):87-91.

(1996). Psychoanalytic Books, 7(1):87-91

How Psychotherapy Works: Process and Technique by Joseph Weiss New York: Guilford Press, 1993, xv + 224 pp., $27.95.

Review by:
Stephen F. Bauer, M.D.

After many decades of idealization in the United States, psychoanalysis has fallen on parlous times. Critics have frequently compared psychoanalysis's fall from grace to that of Marxism, as a similar “light that failed.” These critics propose that psychoanalysis demands belief rather than proof: true believers gain solace from belief itself. For believers evidence is akin more to testimonial than fact. Indeed the current crisis in psychoanalysis would seem to be a crisis of fact.

We psychoanalysts have contributed heavily to this state of affairs. While some (e.g., Edelson, 1984) have taken on the challenge and proposed methods of study of the “single case” (i.e., a psychoanalysis) that meet the requirements of scientific canon, others have indulged in theoretical excursions with formulations taking on a life of their own, seemingly defying proof or disproof, let alone replication.

The author of this book, Joseph Weiss, is one of the pioneers of a growing group of psychoanalysts who have looked closely at psychoanalytic process and outcome. In the course of his work he has questioned notions of present psychoanalytic practice as he understands it, has presented alternative hypotheses about unconscious mental functioning, and has offered empirical research evidence to support his views. This book summarizes decades of clinical teaching, research, and study in a form that is readily accessible to the working psychoanalyst. It is an elegant and impressive volume, but not one that should be uncritically accepted as is.


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