Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Awakening the Dreamer

Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Awakening the Dreamer

Article excerpt

Philip M. Bromberg: Awakening the Dreamer. The Analytic Press, Mahwah, NJ, 2006, 223 pp., $55.00, ISBN 0-88163-441-7

Since its inception, the profession of psychoanalysis has exhibited many guises. It is alternately perceived, by both the lay public as well as the psychotherapy profession, to be humane, intellectually profound, stilted, austere, brilliandy enlightening, curative, outmoded and anachronistic, and unnecessarily impersonal. The attribute of professional impersonality, to the extent that it is accurately applied, is usually attributed to Freud's famous use of the metaphors of analysts as surgeons or reflecting mirrors in his seminal papers on technique. There is, of course, an irony to this attribution in that Freud, as some of his biographers have pointed out, was unsystematic, lively, advice-giving, gossipy, and very self-disclosing with some of his patients; in other words the antithesis of a detached surgeon or reflecting mirror.

The author of this book, Philip Bromberg, is a Training and Supervising Analyst, William Alanson White Institute, and a Clinical Professor of Psychology, New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis. Dislodging himself from the impersonal stance that has characterized the work of many of his psychoanalytic forebears, Bromberg posits a set of psychoanalytic theories and techniques that places special emphasis upon the relational and intersubjective phenomena in the treatment. This more "personal" approach is taken in order to deal with patients as they intermittently dissociate themselves from threatening memories and emotions to achieve a state of stabilization. Recognizing that analysands, and virtually everyone else, including psychotherapists, live their emotional lives in multiple and fluid self-states, and are prone to dissociation, Bromberg is vigilant in his attempts to be highly attuned to the here-and-now self-state of his patients. And wherever he detects alienation from aspects of the self, he courageously enters into those gaps with timely and tempered disclosures of his own affective state. By enlisting the disclosure of the analyst's affective state in response to the patient's ongoing dissociations, a new relational vista is explored and negotiated collaboratively. If this process is successfully implemented, over time the patient will gain, according to Bromberg, a new sense of self and a greater wakefulness to life.

Bromberg takes proper heed of the possible pitfalls of biographical selfdisclosure on the part of the analyst and makes cautionary references to them, such as the potential for self-revelations to feel to the patient like an intrusive indoctrination or ploy for gaining control. …

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