Contemporary Psychoanalysis Review

By David H. Thurn, L.C.S.W., Ph.D. (2015). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, volume 51 pages :562-571

Every psychoanalyst knows how much her or his professional work is an expression of uniquely personal experiences of early development, professional training, and later-life events. Still, it is too seldom that we have a chance to hear our colleagues reflect at length on the particular ways in which this is true for them. Steven Kuchuck has given us this chance in a fine collection of essays gathered together under the title, Clinical Implications of the Psychoanalyst’s Life Experience: When the Personal Becomes Professional. Each of the writers included here understands that the work of analysis occurs only within the shifting and often unexpected currents of personal experience, which pull us off our “professional” footing into the confounding depths of our own histories. Of course, this is necessarily the case when it comes to the work of psychoanalysis which, like the navel of the dream, finally outruns all professional “technique” and reaches down into the unknown.

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A review of Clinical Implications of the Psychoanalyst’s Life Experience: When the Personal Becomes Professional, edited by Steven Kuchuck (2014), Routledge New York, 254 pages

By  Donna F. Tarver, MSSW

Originally published in American Association for Psychoanalysis in Clinical Social Work Newsletter, Winter 2015, pages 5-9.

There are many things to recommend Steven Kuchuck’s latest book Clinical Implications of the Psychoanalyst’s Life Experience: When the Personal Becomes Professional. What I found most compelling is that the book seamlessly demonstrates Kuchuck’s premise and the subject of the book— that each clinician’s choice of theory, clinical interests and technique, and presence in the consulting room is an outgrowth of his/her earliest life experiences, crises, and ongoing history and development. In the Introduction he shares some of the important elements of his own early history and their impact on him and his evolution as a clinician. Kuchuck entered graduate school and then institute training at a classical Freudian institute relatively early in his life. Over the ensuing twenty years he worked continuously to develop his identity as an analyst and has emerged as a faculty member, supervisor, and Board Member of NIP; co-editor of the Journal Psychoanalytic Perspectives and an Associate Editor of the Relational Perspectives Book Series from Routledge. From classical Freudian theory to established Relational Theorist—a complex but understandable transition in light of his history. A transition from training and theory that labeled him, as a gay man, damaged and insisted he keep his core identity secret to his present relational perspective where his subjectivity is to be understood and used in the service of the treatment.

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Living Out Loud

A review of Clinical Implications of the Psychoanalyst’s Life Experience: When the Personal Becomes Professional, edited by Steven Kuchuck (2014), Routledge New York, 254 pages

By Sandra Buechler PhD

Originally published in Psychoanalytic Perspectives, May 2014, pages 198-204. Download full text.

What is the opposite of shame? I have always felt that it is self respect, rather than pride. This immensely engaging and significant book charts its contributors’ struggles to more fully assimilate their personal experience in how they work clinically. Each chapter can be read as a “coming of age” story in which a clinician faces and, eventually, embraces how our life histories shape the therapists we become. I felt as if the contributors were confiding in me, trusting me to listen empathically as they expressed their anguish, confusion, humiliation, and sorrow, as well as their moments of transcendent joy.

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The Therapist as a Subject

Clinical Implications of the Therapist’s Life Experiences: When the Personal Becomes Professional By Steven Kuchuck New York: Routledge, 288pp., $47.95, 2014

by Rachel Sopher

Some time ago, I wrote a short personal essay about my conflicted relationship with my Jewish identity for a small journal on religion. Shortly after it came out in print, I learned that the journal also maintains a web-site on which all of its articles are available and openly accessible to the public. The editor never informed me that the essay would be posted on the journal website. In fact, I only found out about its existence when a patient told me that she had Googled me and read the essay online. My personal life was out there and available to anyone who went looking for me, and I didn’t even know it—I felt completely exposed.

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Clinical Implications of the Psychoanalyst’s Life Experience

Book REVIEW: Clinical Implications of the Psychoanalyst’s Life Experience 

by Brad McLean

Thinking about the ‘blank screen’ of traditional psychoanalysis (and psychotherapy) my mind often goes to the 1939 MGM version of The Wizard of Oz. It is that penultimate point of the drama when Dorothy and her co-travellers meet the Wizard in all his fire and brimstone grandness. It is the point at which confidence swells that their longed-for wishes will be granted. Right at the point of awe and hope Dorothy’s dog Toto finds a green velvet curtain to the side of the room and, in pulling it across, reveals an ordinary silver-haired man pulling machine levers and cranking handles. The diminished, hapless man behind the curtain is working hard to create the illusion of the all-powerful Wizard that everyone expects to see. It is a disappointing moment for Dorothy as the Wizard is unmasked in all his humanness.

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