Authenticity in the Psychoanalytic Encounter: The Work of Irma Brenman Pick, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Authenticity in the Psychoanalytic Encounter

The Work of Irma Brenman Pick, 1st Edition

By Irma Brenman Pick

Edited by M. Fakhry Davids, Naomi Shavit


234 pages

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Authenticity in the Psychoanalytic Encounter brings together Irma Brenman Pick’s original contributions to psychoanalytic technique. Working within the Kleinian tradition, she produces vivid clinical narratives that succeed in shedding a humane light on the struggles that patients – and, indeed, all of us – face in recognising, in an authentic way, our need for, and the contribution of, others in our lives. 

Brenman Pick is interested in the infantile antecedents of conflict in her patients, and the book demonstrates the attention needed to sense how these may be present in the patient’s clinical material. This involves an ability to understand the complex and sophisticated unconscious phantasies that are alive in the patient’s mind. She combines this with a creative clinical imagination that allows her to address these expertly in the here-and-now of the analytic encounter. A particular feature of this is the way Brenman Pick uses the analyst’s countertransference to bring in ways in which the struggle over authenticity also extends to the analyst. The focus on authenticity runs through the book and brings an interesting and original perspective to the topics discussed, which include adolescence, sexual identity, stealing and its relationship to the acknowledgement of dependency, the experience of uncertainty, concern for the object, destructiveness, creativity and the striving towards integration. 

These contributions will prove invaluable to psychoanalysts, psychotherapists and other mental health professionals interested in deepening their understanding of the complex relationships that can arise in the consulting room.


'Irma Brenman Pick, among the most respected and admired analysts in the British Society, is particularly known, and her work particularly valued, for her emotional acuity, her close and sensitive attention to what goes on within the analytic couple. The papers in this book vividly illustrate her ability to keep in mind the pressures, impulses and defences of both partners in the analytic couple and the way these play out in the analytic process, sometimes interfereing with it. Brenman-Pick has become a valued teacher internationally. This book is sure to interest her many admirers, and to introduce her important work to a larger audience.'

Priscilla Roth, Training and Supervising Psychoanalyst, Fellow, British Psychoanalytic Society

'These papers reflect the wealth and depth of Irma Brenman-Pick’s clinical experience. She explores the range of unconscious phantasies that embody both the patient’s destructiveness, and their more positive feelings. Her vivid clinical vignettes show, with courage and sensitivity, the impact such phantasies have on the analyst, and demonstrates an impressive capacity to recognise and to work through what the patient evokes in the analyst and how this interacts with elements in the analyst’s own personality.'

Michael Feldman, Chair, Melanie Klein Trust

‘Irma Brenman Pick’s gift to psychoanalysis is to recognise, accept and explore the paradox that the authentic is always shadowed by the inauthentic. Her open and honest clinical accounts of her psychoanalytic work take the reader beyond the recognition of the patient’s projections to the more painful process of allowing herself to be genuinely affected by them; sometimes as uncomfortably truthful observations of the analyst, at other times resenting their intrusion, but always used as resources for new insights. Authenticity in the Psychoanalytic Encounter is an antidote to the idealization of psychoanalysis and the omnipotence of the psychoanalyst, and can only lead to more authentic practice.’

Donald Campbell, past President, British Psychoanalytical Society

'Although the subject matter is complex Brenman Pick’s style is clear, accessible and without jargon. The reader is assisted by the author’s generous use of vignettes from her clinical and supervisory practice which succinctly illustrate her theses, linking theory to clinical practice. This book would be useful to trainees, those recently qualified and also to experienced practitioners in that it articulates and illuminates many complex issues we all struggle with in our day to day work.'

-Joanna Lee, MA, Psychodynamic Practice Journal

Table of Contents

Foreword Michael Brearley Introduction M. Fakhry Davids and Naomi Shavit SECTION 1: COUNTERTRANSFERENCE Editors’ Introduction; Chapter 1: Working through in the countertransference (1985) Chapter 2: Breakdown in communication: on finding the child in the analysis of an adult (1985) Chapter 3: The emergence of early object relations in the psychoanalytic setting (1992) Chapter 4: Working through in the countertransference revisited: experiences of supervision (2012) SECTION 2: AUTHENTICITY Editors’ Introduction; Chapter 5: On stealing: clinical notes on three adolescent boys (1967) Chapter 6: Precocious development (1969) Chapter 7: Concern: spurious or real (1995) Chapter 8: Creativity and authenticity (2012) SECTION 3: ADOLESCENCE AND SEXUALITY Editors’ Introduction; Chapter 9: Adolescence: its impact on patient and analyst (1988); Chapter 10: Female sexuality: some clinical considerations (1985) Chapter 11: Male sexuality: a clinical study of forces that impede development (1985) SECTION 4: FURTHER CLINICAL THEMES Editors’ Introduction; Chapter 12: Dangling in uncertainty (2002) Chapter 13: Bringing things together (2004) Chapter 14: The interwoven snakes: lurching between longing and destruction (2015)

About the Author/Editors

Irma Brenman Pick is a Distinguished Fellow and Senior Training and Supervising Analyst of the British Psychoanalytic Society. She is a past President of the Society. She trained first as a Child Psychotherapist at the Tavistock Clinic in London, and then as an Adult and a Child Psychoanalyst at the Institute of Psychoanalysis, London.

She served on many committees in the British Society and the International Psychoanalytic Association and has taught in a number of countries, including Australia, Brazil, Germany, Italy, India, Israel, Scandinavia, South Africa, and in the USA (Boston, Los Angeles, New York and Seattle). She is an Honorary Member of the Los Angeles Psychoanalytic Society and the Swedish Psychoanalytic Society.

M. Fakhry Davids is a Fellow and Training and Supervising Analyst of the British Psychoanalytical Society, Honorary Senior Lecturer in the Psychoanalysis Unit, University College London, Honorary Fellow at the Centre for Trauma and Refugees, University of Essex, and Visiting Lecturer at the Tavistock Clinic. He is the author of Internal Racism: A Psychoanalytic Approach to Race and Difference (2011).

Naomi Shavit is a Fellow and Training and Supervising Analyst of the British Psychoanalytical Society. She also trained as a Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist at the Tavistock Clinic, where she taught for many years. She has taught widely on psychoanalytic and psychotherapy trainings in London, and has conducted post-graduate clinical workshops abroad, including Denmark, Israel, India, Italy and Japan.

About the Series

The New Library of Psychoanalysis

The New Library of Psychoanalysis is published by Routledge Mental Health in association with the Institute of Psychoanalysis, London.

Its purpose is to facilitate a greater and more widespread appreciation of psychoanalysis and to provide a forum for increasing mutual understanding between psychoanalysts and those in other disciplines. The series also aims to make some of the work of continental and other non-English speaking analysts more readily available to English-speaking readers, and to increase the interchange of ideas between British and American analysts.

The New Library of Psychoanalysis published its first book in 1987 under the editorship of David Tuckett, later followed by Elizabeth Bott Spillius, Susan Budd and Dana Birksted-Breen. A considerable number of Associate Editors and readers have assisted the editors.

Under the guidance of Foreign Rights Editors, a considerable number of the New Library books have been published abroad, particularly in Brazil, Germany, France, Italy, Peru, Spain and Japan.

The aim of the New Library of Psychoanalysis is to maintain the high level of scholarship of the previous series, to provide a forum for increasing understanding between psychoanalysis and other disciplines and to increase the interest of the general book-reading public in psychoanalysis.

The New Library of Psychoanalysis also aims to help the various schools of psychoanalysis to better understand each other. It has published books representing all three schools of thought in British psychoanalysis, including a particularly important work edited by Pearl King and Riccardo Steiner, expounding the intellectual and organisational controversies that developed in the British psychoanalytical Society between Kleinian, Viennese and 'middle group' analysts during the Second World War.

The New Library of Psychoanalysis has also translated and published several books by Continental psychoanalysts, and it plans in the future to continue the policy of publishing books that express as clearly as possible a variety of psychoanalytic points of view.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Movements / Psychoanalysis
PSYCHOLOGY / Mental Health