Having completed my psychotherapy training over ten years ago, my own clinical approach has evolved considerably since that time. So, for me, re-visiting the key concepts of psychoanalysis has been an interesting exercise. This book provides a fairly comprehensive overview - not only of the theory of psychoanalysis but of its history and the 'psychoanalytic diaspora' triggered by World War II & fuelled by the totalitarian regimes of other practicing countries. All the chapters are well referenced & well structured, with some interesting case vignettes and good use of bold type to highlight the abundance of complex concepts that psychoanalysis contains. Rather than merely providing an uncontested introduction to psychoanalysis, the authors - all practicing psychoanalysts - have included full chapters on various major critiques of psychoanalytic theory and practice. With further chapters on both the research base & the research potential of psychoanalysis and 'the diversity of talking treatments', this book provides excellent reference and starting points for anyone who needs a basic but quite broad grounding on the subject. Good enough to capture and retain my interest from start to finish, this book also served to remind me that psychoanalysis in its purest form remains accessible only to a very small number of people. The authors do make reference to this through Jonathan Lear's comment that we are part of a culture 'which wishes to ignore the complexity, depth and darkness of human life'. The rising popularity of cognitive-behaviour therapy seems to support this cultural trend 'to the detriment of psychoanalytic approaches'. Yet the undeniable richness and therapeutic potential of psychoanalysis sings from every page of this well constructed and easily digested book.
An excellent introduction which manages to be both scholarly and highly readable. The book is remarkably comprehensive considering its brevity, and should serve as an excellent starting point for anyone who wants to learn about the theory and the practice of psychoanalysis.
I came to this as someone who had little understanding of psychoanalysis but was contemplating going down this path as a client. The book was very helpful in explaining the broad approaches used in these sessions and the nature of the therapist-client relationship, with all of the complexities of projection, direction and so on. It also gives a summary of different developmental theories. So, as an end user of psychoanalysis, in my experience this is a very useful primer. Recommended.