Book Reviews -- Self Analysis-Critical Inquiries, Personal Visions Edited by James W. Barron

By Strochak, Robert D. | American Journal of Psychotherapy, Summer 1994 | Go to article overview
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Book Reviews -- Self Analysis-Critical Inquiries, Personal Visions Edited by James W. Barron


Strochak, Robert D., American Journal of Psychotherapy


JAMES W. BARRON, ED.: Self Analysis--Critical Inquiries, Personal Visions. The Analytic Press, Hillsdale, NJ, 1993, 291 pp., $42.50.

Time Magazine (November 29, 1993), with Sigmund Freud and the question "Is Freud Dead?" on the cover, crossed my desk the same day as did Self-Analysis--Critical Inquiries, Personal Visions. If managed health care and antidepressants kill the "talking cure" as predicted, then James Barron's skillfully edited book becomes moot. Otherwise, psychotherapists in dyads who believe that the healing component of the therapy is in the therapist-patient relationship will find the book interesting and useful.

The editor claims there has been a resurgence of interest in self-analysis. He reminds us that the development of psychoanalysis as a model for thinking about human behavior began with Freud's analysis of himself. While this led to the birth of a bold new psychological perspective about human life, it also raised some difficult issues for the new science. Given the difficulties of a successful self-analysis and the human propensity to be blind to one's self, the question is rightly raised whether any treatment built around the treater's self-knowledge is not built on a weak foundation.

Nonetheless, Dr. Barron's diverse group of writers confronts the many questions raised on the role of self-analysis. What is self-analysis and when is it possible? How does it differ from ordinary introspection? What is the relationship between self-analysis and creativity and how can self-analysis be applied in analytic work? What is the role of the "other" in self-analysis?

The book is divided into five sections, each containing two or more papers. In the first section "Development of the Capacity for Self-Analysis over the Life Cycle," the human capacity for self-analysis is equated with the infant's transition from a "generalist" to a "specialist" in organizing inner psychic life. The caregiver is instrumental in this process. There are many parallels in the role of the caregiver-parent and in the role of the analyst-therapist in assisting patients to develop the capacity for self-analysis.

The second section, "Analytic Work and Self-Analysis," focuses on the reciprocal relationship between the therapeutic work and the analyst's efforts at self-understanding. The theme of a "...mutual shaping and influencing of (the) patient's and analyst's inner experiences" (p. 47) is developed.

In the third section, "Modes of Self-Analytic Activity," Three essays come to grips with the efficacy of self-analysis and attempt to present data to justify their faith.

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