The Impact of Narcissism: The Errant Therapist on a Chaotic Quest

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9780765702340: The Impact of Narcissism: The Errant Therapist on a Chaotic Quest
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While many recent advances in dynamic psychotherapy are clinically relevant, others represent change for its own sake, offer little clinical data to support their theoretical constructs, and are primarily motivated by therapists' need to enhance themselves. Narcissism plays an increasingly important role as a defensive adaptation and a characterological trait in the majority of patients seen today. It is a powerful force that often dominates treatment. Focusing on the interplay of narcissism and countertransference, Dr. Giovacchini demonstrates with numerous clinical examples how the intrapsychic focus is deepened when explored in this context. His frank discussion of transference-countertransference feelings enriches clinical vistas and enables therapists to be more creative and autonomous.

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About the Author:

Peter L. Giovacchini, M.D., is Professor Emeritus, Department of Psychiatry, University of Illinois College of Medicine. He is a training and supervising analyst and founder of the Center for Psychoanalytic Studies in Chicago. Dr. Giovacchini has published more than 200 papers and 25 books. He is in the private practice of psychoanalysis in Chicago.

Review:

The central theme of this book, amply illustrated by clinical examples, is the importance of an intrapsychic perspective and the interplay of narcissism and countertransference. Dr. Giovacchini argues that clinicians must put intrapsychic processes, unconscious motivation, and transference projections in the forefront of their work. Presenting his views on other matters as well, the author skillfully deals with schools and fads that put old wine in murky bottles using new and fanciful words to say little or nothing, or in any case nothing new. Giovacchini's debunking, emperor's clothes approach makes a real contribution that should stimulate constructive controversy. He supports both his convictions and his doubts with rich clinical material. (John S. Kafka, M.D., supervising and training analyst, Washington Psychoanalytic Institute)

With the wisdom of his lifelong experience as a psychoanalyst and psychotherapist, Giovacchini has never abandoned his pursuit of knowledge. He takes us on a masterful guided tour of the changes that psychoanalysis has undergone in recent years. His eyes are open to all possibilities and every variety of interest, and he considers clinical cases on which to base hypotheses and build theory. The impact of narcissism and its interplay with countertransference are central to the 'errant therapist's chaotic quest.' To repair this chaos and reduce our anxiety in confronting it, the author provides us with the lucid exposition of a genuinely penetrating mind. His insight will be inspiring to all mental health professionals. (Renata Gaddini, M.D., Italian Psychoanalytic Institute and Society)

Dr. Giovacchini belongs to the group of theoreticians and practitioners who have roamed freely in the realms of object relations but have never strayed away from considering intrapsychic conflict. With plenty of examples, this master clinician illustrates how he becomes a catalyst in the journey to health of patients with severe character disorder. He shows us how he becomes a transitional object for such patients, and how he and the patient render horrible conflicts harmless by 'playing' with them in the transitional space. Over many decades, I have learned from Dr. Peter Giovacchini's contributions to our field, and this book magnificently continues that trend. (Vamik D. Volkan M.D., professor emeritus of psychiatry at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA and the author of Killing in the Name of Identity: Stories of Bloody Conflicts.)

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