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Psychotherapy: Lives Intersecting Hardcover – 31 Jan 2012

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"A lively account of the intellectual and professional evolution of a psychotherapist, with enlightening comments on rival therapeutic schools." --J. M. Coetzee, Nobel Prize Winner in Literature, 2003 "Louis Breger offers an insightful and honest analysis of what his more successful patients found important about his therapeutic style (he also addresses the responses of those that didn't find him particularly useful), allowing for readers to carve their own path in coming to a conclusion about whether psychotherapy and psychoanalysis might be a useful journey." --Phillipe Kleefield, International Journal of Psychotherapy "Reading Lou's book, unique among my reactions to reading psychoanalytic books, was a heart warming experience. I was a tad sad when I reached the end." --Joe Schachter, Contemporary Psychoanalysis "As a relational therapist, making this book available to my students and supervisees will, I hope, serve them as an excellent example of the profound significance that lies in the therapist's awareness of the way in which her life-story, beliefs, vulnerabilities, and strengths shape her identity and therapeutic work.... I have no doubt that this scholarly-cum-biographical volume can help to reinforce the bridge between psychoanalysis, psychotherapy and research in such a way as to strengthen the efficacy of psychotherapy." --Journal of Psychotherapy Integration "You can't really know what it is like to be in psychoanalysis--unless you actually are in psychoanalysis--until now. Through his fascinating new book, Psychotherapy: Lives Intersecting, retired psychoanalyst Louis Breger and his former patients tell it like it really is... Because privacy is so essential to its success, psychoanalytic work is usually shut behind closed doors. But Lou Breger came up with an approach to open those doors in an ethical and liberating way... Dr. Breger's book allows you to enter into his office, pull up a chair, and listen in." --Jennifer Kunst, "Lous Breger[, ] in his excellent Psychotherapy: Lives Intersecting, ... traces his own journey from classical analyst to human analyst.... If you are interested in how therapy ought to work, I recommend Psychotherapy: Lives Intersecting." --Eric Maisel, "I have recently come across the immensely readable (and highly autobiographical) primer by Louis Breger, Psychotherapy Lives Intersecting... which adds the perspective of former patients, what they found helpful and unhelpful in their treatments, to the pearls gleaned from his vast experience as a psychoanalyst... What is unique about this book is that the many clinical vignettes are enriched by reflections from patients about their own psychoanalytic journeys, something the reader may find courageous... As a traditionally trained analyst who also found a relational home in contemporary theories, I found it wonderful to immerse myself in a book where I found like mindedness." --Lycia Alexander-Guerra, Contemporary Psychoanalytic Musings "Louis Breger, in this excellent book, not only invites his reader into the deepest comers of his consultation room but also displays a most intimate description of his personal development as a practitioner of contemporary modern psychoanalytic therapy. His warmth, humanitarianism, and appreciation of his patients we would all do well to share." --Sheldon M. Goodman, "This book provides a historical perspective that is difficult to capture as psychoanalysis fades as a primary treatment of mental disorders. The biggest strength of this little book, however, is Breger's easy writing and warm, inviting, and caring style... it's a quick, compelling, and enjoyable read, written by a man whose masterful skill as a psychotherapist weaves through every page." --Dr. Dinah Miller, "[T]his book belongs in the hands of all friends of psychotherapy, those considering therapy for themselves, and those who are trying to help family or friends make a decision about psychotherapy. Though a professional memoir covering professional subjects, it is still accessible to an educated and interested layperson... [U]nique in its field." --Norman Costa, "[U]nique and valuable.... Psychoanalysis is notoriously under-researched, so this is a model, a breakthrough.... [Breger] provides a guide and a mirror for new and experienced therapists, their teachers and their clients. His pioneering achievement is a gift and a challenge for all of us who care about psychotherapy." --E. James Lieberman, Metapsychology Online Reviews "Thoughtful, well-documented, readable and informative ... Dr. Breger's narrative and the anecdotal material are warm, sensitive and rich.... I highly recommend this book for those who want to learn and think more about the therapeutic process." --Newell Fischer, MD "In Psychotherapy: Lives Intersecting, experienced therapist Louis Breger takes us inside some fascinating, highly varied therapeutic relationships to see how they are regarded, years later, by both him and his former clients. The book beautifully portrays the complexity and humanity of psychotherapy, which is still well beyond the grasp of any theory. Both therapist and client are 'human, all too human'; they make mistakes, have misunderstandings, and draw different lessons from their interactions. But in the process, they grow, gain genuine insights, and come to care deeply and lastingly for each other. This unique book contains lessons and hopeful inspiration for professional therapists, current and prospective clients, and anyone who is curious about rewarding human relationships." --Phillip R. Shaver, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Psychology, University of California, Davis "Louis Breger's new book is a unique and important contribution to the literature on psychotherapy--the first full-length volume I know of in which a psychoanalytic clinician has reported his clients' reflections on their therapy with him, often many years after the experience. The resulting long-range perspective on the clinical encounter as it actually unfolded--not as it is shown in manuals or measured for research purposes--bears witness to the extraordinary complexity of the therapy relationship. The book is full of rich, thoughtful insights about the patients, the therapist, the relationship sculpted by their respective psychologies, and the struggle to heal. Clearly written and extraordinarily candid, Psychotherapy: Lives Intersecting is a page-turner that will be welcomed by patients, students, and all practitioners of psychotherapy." --Nancy McWilliams, PhD, Professor, Rutgers Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology "In Psychotherapy: Lives Intersecting, Louis Breger has given us an original contribution that is destined to become a classic. His book recounts, in a jargon-free, easy style, the stories of numerous patients he worked with over close to fifty years as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist. The discussions include important details of Lou's own personal history and also a series of first-person reflections on the psychotherapy experience by many of the patients themselves. This mix of personal revelation with his patients' own evaluations of their experiences opens a unique window into the experience of psychotherapy and its enormous potential to achieve lasting positive results in our lives. This book will be of great value to anyone considering entering psychotherapy. It also significantly illuminates the intertwining of patient and therapist in the unfolding clinical process, and will in my view be of importance for students and professionals in our field for decades to come." --George E. Atwood, PhD, Professor of Psychology, Rutgers University "This is a most impressive work, unique in its honesty and respect for the patient's experience. Breger shows that we can add "the case history" to the category of so-called objective accounts which we now realize are more subjective and ideologically driven than we thought. In contrast to that objectivizing exercise are the unexpected high-intensity connections recalled by Breger's patients -- for example, when patient and therapist were surprised by a bout of shared laughter, or when the usual boundaries were thrown into question and re-drawn for a moment. This book reminds us that while the best humane engagements are often unpredictable, they are at the heart of what turns out to be therapeutic for our patients." --Leslie Brothers, M.D. Author of Friday's Footprint: How Society Shapes the Human Mind and Mistaken Identity: The Mind-Brain Problem Reconsidered "For everyone who has wanted a chance to tell their psychotherapist/analyst what they thought of their treatment, this is the book you must read. It will also be of interest to therapists, patients and all those contemplating therapy. Breger intercuts descriptions of his patients' difficulties with their reminiscences about the talking cure as he practices it and its effect on their lives. He emerges as a compassionate, responsive and flexible therapist, and also one with a sense of humor." --Brenda Webster, author of The Last Good Freudian and Vienna Triangle "A brave and gifted therapist asks his former patients what helped -- and what didn't help -- in the course of his work with them. Their answers, and his reflections on their answers, have produced a breathtakingly honest, profoundly informative, and enormously readable book. I love it. And so will all but the most hard-line practitioners of analytic psychotherapy. And so will their patients -- past, present, and future. And so will just about anyone who has ever wondered how a good therapeutic relationship can constructively and enduringly transform lives." --Judith Viorst, author of Necessary Losses "For therapists, I suggest this book takes up intermittent residence on their shelves, being re-read every couple of years or any time they are feeling frustrated or nearing burn out. While Breger reflects fondly on therapy, both as doctor and patient, there is much encouragement that can be drawn from his stories. In addition, there are techniques and much about the key compon...

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
In his patients' eyes: the analyst revealed as human 18 Mar. 2012
By mmclaren - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For those who have ever wondered how psychotherapy really works, contemporary psychoanalyst Louis Breger has taken the brave step of pulling back the curtain to allow us to discover, in the eyes of his patients, what has worked - and what has not - in the therapeutic process. Through the accounts of patients spanning his 50-year career, we can discern Breger's personal evolution from 24-year-old predoctoral intern at the Langley Porter Institute in San Francisco to his years at the Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis which he co-founded, perfecting his craft as a psychotherapist as well as conducting research, teaching and writing along the way. The central lesson in this riveting memoir is that what patients value above all else is what all of us value in our interactions with other human beings: authenticity and humanity.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Therapy Demystified 17 Mar. 2012
By vgh - Published on
Format: Hardcover
If you've ever wondered how therapy works, this book will demystify the process for you. Breger not only informs the reader of the ingredients that are needed for helpful therapeutic intervention, he makes it real by including his patient's own words about the process, years after the therapy ended. The inclusion of his own life story and development as a therapist makes the book all the more believable-especially for therapy doubters. This is the rare book I look forward to rereading.
What makes for good therapy anyway? 1 Dec. 2012
By Deb - Published on
Format: Hardcover
What factors make for good therapy? Is it the therapist's training, experience, expertise, and style; the client's circumstances, abilities, personality, and effort; the therapeutic relationship; or perhaps a combination of all of these factors (with a dash or two of luck thrown in there as well)?

And, what factors determine whether the therapeutic effects endure once the therapy has ended?

Author/psychoanalyst Louis Berger attempts to answer these questions in this book:
"While most previous work has been centered on analyst or therapist reports, I will turn this around and devote a great deal of attention to what my former patients have to say about their therapy. Among other things, I was curious to see how their lives had gone after the conclusion of our work together: whether the progress they made endured, regressed, or expanded. I conducted an informal study of over thirty of these patients, asking them to describe what they remembered as being most helpful/therapeutic/curative in our work together...I also asked them to report what was not helpful, what they remembered as nontherapeutic."
(p. 6)

I found the book to be an effective mix of first-person reflections from the patients and author, supplemented by the author's account of his own personal and professional development. It reads like a detective story that ultimately uncovers essential clues as to what makes for good therapy:
"It is clear that the relationship between the patients and myself was at the heart of these successful outcomes, though it took different forms with each individual. Experiencing my attention and affection, admitting and repairing mistakes, catharsis, insight gained from collaboratively constructed interpretations, self-disclosure, humor, flexible fees, and openness to concomitant forms of treatment, all played their roles." (p. 100)

The patients' own words also capture the essence of what therapy is all about. Here's an example:
"Therapy is a wonderful, flawed, limited, potentially limitless process like life gives us wonderful tools to glimpse beneath the surface layer of our existence, to pause, to check ourselves, to understand our behavior, to grow from the insight and experience--and repeat them all again, hopefully with more understanding." (p. 76)

The book is a fun and fascinating read, providing perspectives from both sides of the couch. The writing is honest, straight-forward, and non-defensive (sorry, it's hard to take off my own therapist hat it seems), and offers helpful insights for therapy clients as well as all levels of clinicians.
By suzanne g. weatherford - Published on
Format: Hardcover

This is an unusual, refreshing and clearly written memoir that sheds light on both sides of the therapist-patient relationship. Breger has achieved this by inviting over 30 of his former patients to look back reflectively on their psychoanalytic psychotherapies and to evaluate candidly what their treatment has meant for their lives. After receiving his patients' replies, Dr. Breger shared with these patients his own thoughts about their psychotherapies. Each patient was invited to respond further to Dr. Breger's recollections and to supplement his or her initial comments. In some instances this led to additional patient-therapist interchanges which are also reported in this book.

The result of these dialogues is a unique report on what seemed to work and what didn't in each treatment. Consistent with Dr. Breger's view, shared with many other contemporary relational analytic therapists, what the therapist brings to the therapist-patient relationship can be as important to the outcome as what the patient brings. Dr. Breger sketches his own developmental and professional history and notes how his own life experiences shaped aspects of his relationships with his patients. Where the personality match between therapist and patient was good and a relationship of trust and acceptance developed, the patients in this memoir reported making major gains that remained stable decades later in their lives. Also included in this book are valuable examples of harmful experiences that some of his patients reported in therapy with clinicians they had seen before seeing Dr. Breger. Patients repeatedly comment on just how powerful it is to feel carefully listened to and followed, in a relaxed and respectful relational climate. The findings of this informal patient survey also suggest that the quality of the therapy relationship, especially as it fostered shared moments of emotional intimacy is key to the "talking cure" achieving its desired effect.

Dr. Breger's book will be immensely interesting for any reader seeking a demystified understanding of how modern psychoanalytic psychotherapy works. Psychotherapy Lives Intersecting is a rare jewel for both the practitioner and the reader who is curious about the psychoanalytic process as well as for anyone who is considering entering psychotherapy. I recommend it highly.
Breger's 'How To' Manual 28 Mar. 2012
By Kay Seirup - Published on
Format: Hardcover
It is nothing less than extraordinary that the last two books by Dr. Louis Breger, his wonderful addendum 'A Dream of Undying Fame' and now his uniquely utilitarian, helpful and exceedingly wise 'Lives Intersecting', provide richly useful information about how the truth can be applied in different formats. In the former, Breger expands the close relationship between Freud and Breuer, providing a 'you are there' experience for the reader. And now, with 'Lives Intersecting', he does it yet again, but with a more contemporary point of view so that readers who have either been in therapy or are contemplating doing so, now have a template which provides them with a map or blueprint of how truly effective, caring and genuinely helpful therapy should be done. In this marvelous little volume, Dr. Breger reassures us, not through his own commentary entirely, but by sharing the feelings, ideas and fears and hopes that many of his patients were willing to provide. Consider, for example, how remarkable it was for Dr. Breger to risk allowing patients to candidly say anything they wish, even after over 25 years have passed in some cases. This fact provides a uniquely intimate and personal lens through which the reader can microscopically examine the best, most effective and most helpful way to undergo psychotherapy, free of worry whether or not you are in good hands. This is a book for the clinician and consumer alike. This honest and forthright little confessional, by both patient and author, can be used as a wonderful tool for teaching therapy as the art form it really is, performed with care, honesty and intelligence by a true master. This is a book you can give to people you care about with confidence. A true gem. Jon Seirup, Ph.D.
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