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Frank Summers

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In The Psychoanalytic Vision: The Experiencing Subject, Transcendence, and the Therapeutic Process (Routledge, 2013), Frank Summers has written a wholly original work of theory, technique and cultural critique. Privileging terms not often used in psychoanalytic writing, among them romanticism, transcendence and futurity, Summers documents an as yet undocumented shift in the field. In an effort to buttress the standing of psychoanalysis as a science, psychoanalysts previously attempted to delineate certain laws pertaining to the psyche, ranging from the Oedipus complex to notions of the self; now, according to Summers, the majority of analysts attend primarily to the experience of their patients. As such, psychoanalysis has become a "science of the subjective."

Critiquing the field for reifying concepts like "the unconscious" and for perhaps unwittingly playing along with a culture that maximally commodifies humanity, Summers suggests we position psychoanalysis on the perimeter of the American mainstream. "Any view of analysis that presupposes a norm," he writes, "may justifiably be labeled wild analysis, irrespective of theoretical content." In fact he cogently argues that there may be a new divide among analysts that has nothing to do with metapsychology but rather more to do with technique. The new "classical" analyst applies theory to their clinical work deductively, using the patient to prove a theory right rather than exploring with the patient what constitutes their sense of things.

Influenced by Loewald, Benjamin, Stern, Heidegger, Husserl and Winnicott, among others, Summers has nevertheless developed his own clinical metier. When he turns his trenchant eye to the culture and the impact of new technologies upon us, one shivers with recognition. It is high time that psychoanalysts begin to take on the culture industry, assessing its powerful impact on what it means to be human. In this interview Summers does this and more.


Jean PetrucelliBody-States: Interpersonal and Relational Perspectives on the Treatment of Eating Disorders

April 1, 2015

Responding to a significant lacuna in psychoanalytic literature, Jean Petrucelli has put together an impressive book that approaches the eating-disordered patient from interpersonal and relational perspectives. Just as the papers within Body States: Interpersonal and Relational Perspectives on the Treatment of Eating Disorders (Routledge, 2014) animate the twin themes of dissociation and integration, so too do the authors […]

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Susan Kavaler-AdlerAnatomy of Regret: From Death Instinct to Reparation and Symbolization through Vivid Clinical Cases

March 17, 2015

The metaphorical construction of Susan Kavaler-Adler's Anatomy of Regret: From Death Instinct to Reparation and Symbolization through Vivid Clinical Cases (Karnac, 2013) evokes the complexities that have wrought psychoanalysis since its beginning of talking about the mind in the language of the body.   As it subtitle tells us, the anatomy of this book is structured by […]

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Paul GeltnerEmotional Communication: Countertransference Analysis and the Use of Feeling in Psychoanalytic Technique

March 6, 2015

With Emotional Communication: Countertransference Analysis and the Use of Feeling in Psychoanalytic Technique (Routledge, 2013), Paul Geltner has written the definitive textbook on countertransference. No book, to my knowledge comes even close to this accomplishment. Most analysts are taught that countertransferences are the idiosyncratic feelings of the analyst. Geltner begins with the radical assumption that […]

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Lynn Chancer and John AndrewsThe Unhappy Divorce of Sociology and Psychoanalysis: Diverse Perspectives on the Psychosocial

February 12, 2015

[Cross-posted from New Books in Sociology] The Unhappy Divorce of Sociology and Psychoanalysis: Diverse Perspectives on the Psychosocial (Palgrave MacMillan, 2014) is an edited volume. Its chapters document the central place of psychoanalysis in American sociology in the 1950s and sketch the backstory to that relationship. The core chapters expose the campaign waged by leading sociologists to discredit […]

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Sally Weintrobe, ed.Engaging with Climate Change: Psychoanalytic and Interdisciplinary Perspectives

February 11, 2015

How up to date are you on the projected impact of climate change on human civilization in the next 100 years? Once you look at latest predictions, quickly come back and listen to this interview with Sally Weintrobe, because she brings a much-needed, yet realistic sense of hope to what most people consider a dire […]

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Daniel ShawTraumatic Narcissism: Relational Systems of Subjugation

January 28, 2015

Conventional psychoanalytic views of narcissism focus on familiar character traits: grandiosity, devaluation, entitlement and a lack of empathy. In his new book Traumatic Narcissism: Relational Systems of Subjugation (Routledge, 2013), Daniel Shaw explores narcissism from a relational perspective, concentrating on the effect that the traumatizing narcissist can have on others. Shaw defines the traumatizing narcissist as the […]

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Bruce FinkAgainst Understanding: Volume 2: Cases and Commentary in a Lacanian Key

January 13, 2015

Bruce Fink joins me for a second interview to discuss Volume 2 of Against Understanding: Cases and Commentary in a Lacanian Key (Routledge, 2014).  We talk about everything from desire, jouissance, and love to variable-length sessions and  “why anyone in their right mind would pay for analysis.”  Just like one might go to a personal trainer to shed some pounds, […]

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Liran RazinskyFreud, Psychoanalysis, and Death

January 5, 2015

Liran Razinsky’s book, titled Freud, Psychoanalysis, and Death (Cambridge University Press, 2014) came out of a decade’s long attempt to reconcile Liran's personal search for meaning within two areas of professional inquiry: philosophy, and psychology.  These two fields are intimately related in that each asks essential questions about what it means to be a human subject that lives […]

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Gohar HomayounpourDoing Psychoanalysis in Tehran

December 19, 2014

In Doing Psychoanalysis in Tehran (MIT Press, 2012) — part memoir, part elegy, and part collection of clinical vignettes — Gohar Homayounpour takes a defiant position against the Orientalizing gaze of Western publishers, editors, and journalists who search in her book for the exotic Iranian subject and the trauma of the Eastern Other. She turns […]

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