Understanding and Treating Patients in Clinical Psychoanalysis: Lessons from Literature

Sandra Buechler (USA)

SBuechlerBkpic9780415856478wwwNo one can portray human dilemmas more vividly than the best fiction writers. In their imagined worlds we meet characters struggling with the whole gamut of life’s possibilities. We watch as some triumph over seemingly impossible obstacles and others sink beneath their weight. We have a ring side seat as they show us how they cope.

In this book I try to get to the heart of what it means to cope with life using paranoid, schizoid, obsessive, hysteric, depressive, and narcissistic defensive patterns. From short stories and clinical experience I also cull some ways people deal with grief and aging. Characters in fiction vividly and memorably “speak” about their efforts to live fulfilled lives. As students of human nature, we do well to listen closely. This book gives the reader the opportunity to listen to the characters in 76 especially illustrative, emotionally gripping short stories.

I think of this book as a series of “interviews” of fictional characters. I ask them what they can tell me about their ways of dealing with their lives. They tell me stories of how they have lost, or regained, or retained their balance in the face of life’s dilemmas. The conclusion of each chapter considers one of my favorite questions: Who does the clinician need to be, in order to help someone with this coping style? When I ask this question in classes, I emphasize the word “who,” and point out that I did not ask what we need to say, or do, but, rather, who we need to be. All of my work rests on the premise that the personhood of the clinician is a key factor in treatment. Our “clinical values,” such as hope, courage, and curiosity, shape how we work with everyone we treat. But in each chapter I suggest some human qualities that I think are particularly relevant to treating the people considered in that section.

I believe that the characters in these stories have much to contribute to our understanding of the human condition, and, therefore, to our ability to fulfill our roles as clinicians.

Link:  http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415856478/

Buechlerphoto1014wSandra Buechler, PhD
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