To penetrate the opaque, to lift the weight and let the self escape its frozen image - this is the essence of psychotherapy, a process described with extraordinary grace and warmth in this book. In remarkably candid portraits of patients at odds with themselves, Leston Havens takes us through the wonders and rigors of psychological healing and shows us what it really means, in immediate, human terms, to come to life. We are all captives of the images we carry with us - and those we inspire - and therapy seeks to expose the relation of these images to a deeper psychological life, to free the captive from labels and crippling assumptions. Havens views this process through the multiple lenses of literature, art, and psychiatry. In rich clinical portraits, short on jargon and rigid techniques and long on empathy and wisdom, we encounter ordinary people struggling with the trials of their own existence: marriage and divorce, sexual identity and fulfillment, illness and death. We meet a woman imprisoned by eager responses to her beauty and helpfulness, a proud lawyer in thrall to conventional expectations, a dying man becoming more and more alive as he approaches death. Through these very personal stories, Havens explores the meaning of psychological health - how it can be recognized through the filter of images and ideas, protected from their distorting power, and encouraged to flourish. The result is a revealing and deeply moving explication of the process of self-discovery as it emerges from the life story that therapy can tell.
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Leston Havens is Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Cambridge Hospital.Review:
"Havens refers not only to the psychiatry greats, but to classic and contemporary authors from Shakespeare to Nabokov, to T.S. Eliot, to Wittgenstein. A dozen clinical vignettes offer a revealing glimpse into how therapy is done by a master practitioner. The book's evocative power is reminiscent of Winnicott's writings..."Making Contact" is written in lucid and energetic English and is a pleasure to read...[The book] shows how a cultured, versatile, concerned and mature therapist goes about his work--understanding patients and helping them resolve problems, change personalities, break out their alienation and find sense in themselves and in life." --Alexander Elder, M.D., "Psychiatric Times"
"With vignettes, metaphors, and a focus on the experience of the patient rather than labels or jargon, Havens depicts three kinds of language intended to facilitate contact with patients suffering from the three kinds of absence. Embedded in these approaches, however, is far more than "how to" techniques. The reader is introduced to an elegant, clinically useful, and subtle way of thinking about some of our most troubled and troubling patients. Havens clearly knows that without passion there is no truth. Indeed, he demonstrates how disciplined passion can aid us not only in reaching our patients, but also in reaching the dark parts of ourselves as well." --Fred Scectman, Ph.D., "Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic"
"This highly original book, filled with illuminating clinical examples, is actually a primer of grammar and rhetoric for the psychotherapist...We are also given glimpses of the work of an artist-therapist who has crafted a personal style of great power and who consistently provides thedate on which his new ideas are based...This volume is clearly the result of a lifetime of experience. It systematizes and categorizes what a wise...therapist does to help his patient...The writing is admirably lucid and simple, and those of us with less experience--or less sheer therapeutic talent--may be beguiled into thinking we can quickly achieve the therapeutic dexterity of the master therapist that Havens is...Even the most experienced therapist, however, will learn new things, will rethink the ways he or she talks to patients, and will do better work after studying this book...This is a most important contribution that I highly recommend." --Nancy C. Andreasen, M.D., Ph.D., "American Journal of Psychiatry"
"The virtual elimination of inpatient psychotherapy in modern American psychiatry makes the appearance of Leston Havens' book most welcome. Havens, a nationally known Harvard clinician and teacher, has gathered a lifetime of psychotherapeutic wisdom into less than 200 pages of advice to those who treat ego-damaged patients--the psychotic, the seriously depressed, and the borderline. This well-written book can be of use to therapists of all levels of sophistication." --Walter Weintraub, M.D., "Hospital and Community Psychiatry"
""Making Contact" by Leston Havens, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, is a basic grammar of empathy--a sort of Strunk and White for psychotherapists. While it may not be of much use to laymen, it might be of great interest to those who at one time or another have lain upon a couch...Obviously, the author of this quite lively and quite lovely text is interested and skilled in providing genuine verbal havens rather than with easyintellectualizations." --Susan Monsky, "Boston Globe"
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