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Rousselle, D. (2015). Against Understanding: Cases and Commentary in a Lacanian Key (Volume 2). By Bruce Fink. New York: Routledge, 2014, 272 pp.. Psychoanal. Rev., 102(4):602-604.

(2015). Psychoanalytic Review, 102(4):602-604

Against Understanding: Cases and Commentary in a Lacanian Key (Volume 2). By Bruce Fink. New York: Routledge, 2014, 272 pp.

Review by:
Duane Rousselle, Ph.D.

Lacanian psychoanalysis is often characterized as an enterprise concerned primarily with esoteric theoretical and conceptual apparatuses, not with the demonstration of empirical validity or clinical effectiveness. Commentators have noted that the relative absence of published case histories has led to a situation in which those few that have been published serve only to bolster preexisting theoretical foundations. For example, Michael J. Miller (2011) has argued that cases “remain in the service of illustrating Lacan's diagnostic system, and occur in a text that is primarily devoted to pedagogy of Lacanian theory in general” (p. 19). It would appear as though Bruce Fink has made a bold step toward remedying this situation by publishing an assortment of short clinical case notes and “case vignettes” derived from his own clinical practice. The volume also includes an uneven selection of essays, transcripts, and interviews, many of which showcase Fink's notoriety as a foremost interpreter of Lacan (e.g., interviews consist of questions posed toward Fink, and transcripts consist of lectures, workshops, speeches, and seminars conducted by Fink1).

The enduring contribution of the volume is the deployment of a distinctively Lacanian approach to writing case notes. The broader theoretical frame of “mastery” may be used to orient the entire book. For example, the proposition is raised that “case studies are generally written up and published in order to demonstrate the clinician's mastery” (p.

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