A Short Introduction to psychoanalysis/Introducing Psychoanalysis: Essential Themes and Topics

By Layland, W. Ralph | International Journal of Psychoanalysis, June 2006 | Go to article overview

A Short Introduction to psychoanalysis/Introducing Psychoanalysis: Essential Themes and Topics


Layland, W. Ralph, International Journal of Psychoanalysis


A short introduction to psychoanalysis by Jane Milton, Caroline Polmear and Julia Fabricius London: Sage. (Short Introductions to the Therapy Professions series.) 2004. 172 p.

Introducing psychoanalysis: Essential themes and topics edited by Susan Budd and Richard Rusbridger Hove: Routledge. 2005. 272 p.

Reviewed by W. Ralph Layland, 13 Jeffrey's Pl, Jeffrey's St, London, NW1 9PP, UK - wralphl@nildram.co.uk

To be invited to review a book for IJP is always a little anxiety provoking. When the book is written by three members of one's own psychoanalytical society, it is almost frightening. To discover that 'actually, it is two books I want you to review' and that the second one is edited by two more colleagues from the British Psychoanalytical Society (BPaS) and contains papers by a further 16, it becomes positively life threatening. Fortunately, to my enormous relief, I enjoyed both books and so can be positive about them.

The next decision was, 'Which to read first?' I chose the shorter of the two, the one also published first. The publisher of Milton et al. writes that the series of which the book forms a part is 'ideal for anyone thinking about a career in one of the therapy professions or in the early stages of training. The books will also be of interest to mental health professionals needing to understand allied professions and also patients, clients and relatives of service users'. The preface to Milton et al. also usefully provides an answer to those people who say they have never understood the difference between psychoanalysis, psychology, and psychiatry.

Milton et al. cover not only what psychoanalysis is (chapter 1) and the basics of its theory (chapter 2), but also give a brief history of the discipline and outline the differences in its practice in different cultures around the world. The authors also provide answers to critics of psychoanalysis, while chapter 6 discusses the role of research in the field.

Chapter 7 explores psychoanalysis beyond the consulting room. In the first of two sections, the authors describe how psychoanalytic consultation has been used in understanding organizations, the caring professions and with general medical practitioners, such as the Balint groups. The second covers psychoanalytical teaching in universities, and the relationship of psychoanalysis to philosophy, literature, art, film, and social issues.

The next chapter compares psychoanalysis with other psychotherapies available in the UK. Although the book is principally aimed at UK readers, there is much in it that is applicable to other countries; however, the outline of current professional organization in the last chapter refers specifically to the UK.

The authors are to be congratulated on the amount and clarity of material they have presented in a relatively small number of pages.

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