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Perman, G.P. (2015). Against Understanding, Volume 1: Commentary and Critique in a Lacanian Key, by Bruce Fink, Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, London and New York, 2014, 257 pp., $47.95.. Psychodyn. Psych., 43(1):137-142.

(2015). Psychodynamic Psychiatry, 43(1):137-142

Book Reviews

Against Understanding, Volume 1: Commentary and Critique in a Lacanian Key, by Bruce Fink, Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, London and New York, 2014, 257 pp., $47.95.

Review by:
Gerald P. Perman, M.D.

Jacques Lacan (1901-1981) was an enigmatic French psychoanalyst who was largely ignored during his lifetime by American psychoanalysis. This is because his concepts and his language, even when translated into English, are difficult to understand and follow without a deep immersion into his theories and writings. Enter American Bruce Fink. Fink spent seven years in France, learning and perfecting his French, undergoing a Lacanian analysis, and intensively studying Lacan's work. Over the ensuing decades he has been translating Lacan's prolific writings into English (as have others before him) and he has taken it on himself to make Lacan's ideas accessible to the English-speaking psychotherapist through numerous publications. Against Understanding, Volume 1: Commentary and Critique in a Lacanian Key, is a collection of interviews and unpublished papers and presentations by Fink that spans the last 20 years.

The first of the three sections of Against Understanding is titled “Commentary” and is divided into three parts: (1) “On Clinical Practice,” (2) “On Reading Lacan,” and (3) “On Translation.” Beginning with the first chapter from which the book takes its name, Fink turns a commonly accepted idea in psychodynamic psychotherapy on its head. He contends that helping the analysand “understand himself” (Delphi's oracle) interferes with the most important goals of treatment: behavioral change and achieving emotional well-being.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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