Resolution Of Inner Conflict: An Introduction To Psychoanalytic Therapy, 2nd Edition (Book Review)

Author:  Auld, Frank, Hyman, Marvin, and Rudzinski, Donald
Publisher: American Psychological Association Press
Reviewed By: Stephen Miller, Vol. XXVI, 4 (Fall 2006), pp. 47

American Relational theorists primarily initiated the application of postmodern philosophical theory to psychoanalysis. This has led to the deconstruction of fundamental theoretical moorings of classical psychoanalytic theory. No area of psychoanalytic theory has been more profoundly affected than the theory of technique, particularly classical ideas regarding the theory of technique.

The idea, for example, that the observer influences the observed has dramatically influenced the theory of technique. This concept, which originally developed out of the discipline of physics, has been used to challenge fundamental aspects of the classical psychoanalytic theory of technique. The Freudian concepts of abstinence and neutrality, in particular, have been casualties of this concept. The relational concept of “co-creation” has been a product of this concept. Although a perversion of the Relational perspective, the idea that “anything goes” in the “co-creation” process can replace the thoughtful consideration of what constitutes the optimal circumstances under which the analytic process best takes place.

Even in physics, however, such ideas regarding the effects of observation, for example, are seen in a certain perspective. When one shoots a rocket to the moon, its observation may influence the process but the thing still obeys certain physical laws and crashes into the moon. The effects of observation on this phenomenon are seen as delimited. The basic laws of physics (even though Einstein’s theory of relativity is not consistent with quantum mechanics) are not replaced by “anything goes.”

It is not uncommon to hear young analytic candidates talk about psychoanalysis as though the ideas regarding technique and analysis occurring prior to postmodern influences were and are archaic and defective. This book challenges that notion. This book re-states classical ideas regarding the theory of technique and richly explains what the authors think constitutes optimal classical psychoanalytic treatment and why. To be sure, this book is a product of classical thinking.

These authors adopt a neoclassical perspective, with the goals of therapy being structural change through the processes of analysis of resistance and analysis of transference. The principle function of the therapist is that of interpreter of the patient’s intrapsychic conflict, specifically unconscious conflict.

This book is at once a practical guide to the therapy process, while also clearly explaining the basic principles of classical psychoanalytic theory of technique. The authors include chapters on basic components of psychoanalytic psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. Chapters explore the basic structure of the therapeutic situation, analysis of resistance, analysis of transference/counter-transference, the theory of unconscious motivation/communication, dream interpretation, and the termination process.

This is an excellent basic textbook on the fundamental principles of classical psychoanalytic technique. However, it is a basic textbook. The chapter on therapy with women, for example, is in my view, quite weak. I was particularly struck with the absence of references to the work of Helen Block Lewis regarding differing superego styles in men and women. The points of view from non-Freudian traditions are also quite limited.

This brings us to my final criticism of this fine book on the theory of technique. This book admirably re-states the basic parameters of Freudian psychoanalysis. However, it preaches only to the choir. It is a fine but basic textbook on classical technique.

Despite a brief discussion of the points of view of other psychoanalytic schools and the brief discussion of psychoanalytic controversies, psychoanalysts from other theoretical perspectives will justifiably feel that their sensibilities are excluded from consideration. To briefly return to the postmodern arguments with which I introduced this review, the authors have not, in any significant way, focused on the ways in which co-creation, for example, significantly affects the treatment setting (e.g. the capacities for abstinence, neutrality, or objectivity); nor have they offered an explanation of how such criticism of traditional theory are exaggerated. There is not much new in this book.

In summary, this is a very fine basic textbook on the psychoanalytic theory of technique from a neoclassical perspective. While richly discussing and explaining the Freudian frame, it does not discuss objections and criticisms of the Freudian model in any substantial depth. Those of us who subscribe to the Freudian model will find this a valuable basic textbook. Psychoanalysts from other theoretical perspectives will find it unresponsive to many criticisms that have been made of the classical perspective in recent years.

Stephen J. Miller


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Reviewer Note

Karen Zelan has written extensively on the psychology of children’s learning. She is the author of Between Their World and Ours:Breakthroughs with Autistic Children.


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