Comparing Schools of Analytic Therapy

ISBN 13: 9781568211077

Comparing Schools of Analytic Therapy

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This book looks at how noted analytic therapists of different theoretical orientations view the same clinical material. While it is not true that there are as many psychoanalytic approaches to treatment as there are psychoanalysts, it often seems that way. As regular and inevitable as the repetition compulsion, each new discovery within the body of psychoanalysis has resulted in the splitting off of its founder and his or her adherents to form new schools of thought. Not only is the field stimulated by numerous differing schools of thought, but there is often disagreement about clinical issues even among those who advocate the same theory. It is not just that we sometimes wind up comparing apples and oranges, but it turns out that apples come in wondrous variety. How are therapists to make sense of these differences?
The professional literature contains many admirable and thorough descriptions of the various psychoanalytic theories of the mind. However, most endeavors do not provide the reader with a vivid picture of the unique way each theoretical perspective illuminates its select portion of the clinical material. Until now there was no book that offered the reader the opportunity to compare the clinical applications of each approach. Often the differences between theoretical systems seem more semantic than substantive, but substantive clinical differences may actually be obscured by the theoretical jargon. In this volume, Dr. Peter Buirski gives life to these concepts by demonstrating how they compare when applied to the same sample of clinical material.
Since the sparse detailed clinical material in the professional literature is necessarily influenced by each presenting therapist's theoretical persuasion, and it is not possible for many different therapists to actually see the same case, Dr. Buirski has presented nine therapists with an uncontaminated clinical sample. The clinical material is the case of Alexander Portnoy from Philip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint.
The nine analysts in this book each view the character of Alexander Portnoy differently. Some see him as neurotic, others as narcissistic; some focus on his impotence, others on his libido; some see him as a victim, others as a rapist. Each analyst imagines engaging the character in a unique and distinct interpersonal relationship. The intersubjective context is framed then by the subjective reality of the various analysts as they engage the character in a relationship of their own mutual construction.
Dr. Buirski offers no answers to the question of which approach is best. What he does offer is a vivid sample from which the reader can draw her/his own conclusions.

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