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Book Review

The Little Psychotherapy Book: Object Relations in Practice

Sidney H. Weissman, MD

Published: September 15, 2011

The Little Psychotherapy Book: Object Relations in Practice

Allan G. Frankland, MD. Oxford University Press, New York, NY, 2010, 187 pages, $29.95 (paper).

A novice psychotherapist can always benefit from a volume that walks one through the beginning phases of learning how to become a psychotherapist. This brief book addresses learning how to become a psychotherapist from the perspective of object relations theory. All therapeutic interventions that are discussed or presented are understood from an object relations framework. To make varied teaching points, the author creates a model female patient. He uses interventions with her in varied phases of psychotherapy to demonstrate clinical interactions that can then be used to demonstrate therapeutic interventions. The author’s examples are generally clearly written and easy for the new psychotherapist to comprehend.

The author’s theoretical object relations framework, however, does create a view of how psychotherapy works upon which not all psychotherapists would agree. A specific example is when his model patient acts in a fashion that would antagonize the therapist. The author, on each occasion on which this takes place, describes that action between patient and therapist as a "projective identification." By this he means that the patient has projected on to the therapist the patient’s hostile thoughts. The therapist in turn identifies or takes on the hostile feelings that are projected upon him. In this model, any hostility the therapist has toward the patient is created by the therapist’s identification with the projected thoughts of the patient. It is possible that the provocative actions of the patient might make anyone angry and that the angry feelings are not an identification with the patient. Of course, it is the therapist’s responsibility to observe both his or her own thoughts and feelings and those of the patient and to act in a therapeutic fashion.

For the new psychotherapist, this volume is a welcome addition to a library.

Sidney H. Weissman, MD

Author affiliation: Feinberg School of Medicine of Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois. Potential conflicts of interest: None reported.

Volume: 72

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