Affect in Psychoanalysis: A Clinical Synthesis, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Affect in Psychoanalysis

A Clinical Synthesis, 1st Edition

By Charles Spezzano


264 pages

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Drawing on the writings of Freud, Fairbairn, Klein, Sullivan, and Winnicott, Spezzano offers a radical redefinition of the analytic process as the intersubjective elaboration and regulation of affect. The plight of analytic patients, he holds, is imprisonment within crude fantasy elaborations of developmentally significant feeling states. Analytic treatment fosters the patient's capacity to keep alive in consciousness, and hence reflect on, these previously warded-off affective states; it thereby provides a second chance to achieve competence in using feeling states to understand the self within its relational landscape.


"Affect in Psychoanalysis is an exciting book that draws on all psychoanalytic traditions in a remarkably unbiased and wonderfully balanced way. Spezzano remains fair to all these traditions while extracting what is valuable from each to construct a model of psychoanalytic theory and practice in which affects have the central role they deserve."

- Lewis Aron, Ph.D., Director, NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis

"Unafraid to question authority and challenge received wisdom, Dr. Spezzano adds a significant new vooice to the ongoing psychoanalytic dialogue on affects. With erudition and synthetic skill, he explores affect theory from multiple perspectives without losing sight of the relational context. He writes about these complex matters clearly and simply; his book, in addition to being highly informative, is a pleasure to read."

James W. Barron, Ph.D., author, Humor and Psyche (Analytic Press, 1999)

"This is a much-needed book on a crucial yet neglected topic. Spezzano tackles some of the thorniest conceptual issues in psychoanalysis, always staying in touch with the vital core of clinical work. His approach is original and stimulating - it will help us take a fresh look at the way we think about our patients. I recommend the book to therapists of all orientations and to other interested in studying the human condition."

- Jay Greenberg, Ph.D., Training and Supervising Analyst, Willian Alanson White Institute

Table of Contents

I. Knowing and Talking About Affect

- The Place of Psychoanalysis in the Conversation About Human Affective Life

- How Psychoanalysts Talk About Affects Now

II. The Evolution of Psychoanalytic Thinking About Affects

- Freud's Alleged Missing Theory of Affects Revisited

- Affect and Its Regulation in Post-Freudian Theory

III. The Dialectics of Affect

- Patients and Their Discontents: Who or What Is Responsible?

- Excitement, Certainty, Relational Coordination, and Competence

About the Author

Charles Spezzano, Ph.D., is a member of the Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California, the Los Angeles Institute and Society for Psychoanalytic Studies, and the International Psychoanalytic Association. He is a contributing editor to Psychoanalytic Dialogues and is on the editorial board of JAPA. He is coeditor, with Gerald J. Gargiulo, of Soul on the Couch: Spirituality, Religion, and Morality in Contemporary Psychoanalysis (Analytic Press, 1997).

About the Series

Relational Perspectives Book Series

The Relational Perspectives Book Series (RPBS) publishes books that grow out of or contribute to the relational tradition in contemporary psychoanalysis. The term relational psychoanalysis was first used by Greenberg and Mitchell (1983) to bridge the traditions of interpersonal relations, as developed within interpersonal psychoanalysis and object relations, as developed within contemporary British theory. But, under the seminal work of the late Stephen Mitchell, the term relational psychoanalysis grew and began to accrue to itself many other influences and developments. Various tributaries—interpersonal psychoanalysis, object relations theory, self psychology, empirical infancy research, and elements of contemporary Freudian and Kleinian thought—flow into this tradition, which understands relational configurations between self and others, both real and fantasied, as the primary subject of psychoanalytic investigation.  

We refer to the relational tradition, rather than to a relational school, to highlight that we are identifying a trend, a tendency within contemporary psychoanalysis, not a more formally organized or coherent school or system of beliefs. Our use of the term relational signifies a dimension of theory and practice that has become salient across the wide spectrum of contemporary psychoanalysis. Now under the editorial supervision of Lewis Aron and Adrienne Harris with the assistance of Associate Editors Steven Kuchuck and Eyal Rozmarin, the Relational Perspectives Book Series originated in 1990 under the editorial eye of the late Stephen A. Mitchell. Mitchell was the most prolific and influential of the originators of the relational tradition. He was committed to dialogue among psychoanalysts and he abhorred the authoritarianism that dictated adherence to a rigid set of beliefs or technical restrictions. He championed open discussion, comparative and integrative approaches, and he promoted new voices across the generations.  

Included in the Relational Perspectives Book Series are authors and works that come from within the relational tradition, extend and develop the tradition, as well as works that critique relational approaches or compare and contrast it with alternative points of view. The series includes our most distinguished senior psychoanalysts along with younger contributors who bring fresh vision.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Applied Psychology
PSYCHOLOGY / Mental Health