Dramatic Dialogue: Contemporary Clinical Practice, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Dramatic Dialogue

Contemporary Clinical Practice, 1st Edition

By Galit Atlas, Lewis Aron


186 pages

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In Dramatic Dialogue, Atlas and Aron develop the metaphors of drama and theatre to introduce a new way of thinking about therapeutic action and therapeutic traction. This model invites the patient’s many self-states and the numerous versions of the therapist’s self onto the analytic stage to dream a mutual dream and live together the past and the future, as they appear in the present moment. The book brings together the relational emphasis on multiple self-states and enactment with the Bionian conceptions of reverie and dreaming-up the patient.

The term Dramatic Dialogue originated in Ferenczi’s clinical innovations and refers to the patient and therapist dramatizing and dreaming-up the full range of their multiple selves. Along with Atlas and Aron, readers will become immersed in a Dramatic Dialogue, which the authors elaborate and enact, using the contemporary language of multiple self-states, waking dreaming, dissociation, generative enactment, and the prospective function.

The book provides a rich description of contemporary clinical practice, illustrated with numerous clinical tales and detailed examination of clinical moments. Inspired by Bion’s concept of "becoming-at-one" and "at-one-ment," the authors call for a return of the soul or spirit to psychoanalysis and the generative use of the analyst’s subjectivity, including a passionate use of mind, body and soul in the pursuit of psychoanalytic truth. Dramatic Dialogue will be of great interest to all psychoanalysts and psychotherapists.


'In this brilliant book, Atlas and Aron have done nothing less than shift the ground under our feet. In one fell swoop, the commodious metaphor of "dramatic dialogue," adopted from Ferenczi and then turned to wider use, makes it possible for the authors to see and describe commonalities among clinical and intellectual contributions that have often been considered incommensurable. In illuminating a whole new approach to the problem of psychoanalytic pluralism, and in a lucid, clinically rich text that covers an enormous range of ideas, Atlas and Aron are opening ?a door to the psychoanalysis of the future.'-Donnel Stern, Ph.D., Training and Supervising Analyst, William Alanson White Institute, Clinical Consultant and Faculty, NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis.

'Immensely compelling and clinically useful, Dramatic Dialogue beautifully demonstrates the necessary integration of the enacted relationship and its symbolic contents. Brilliantly argued, this book is both an exciting revision of psychoanalysis and a renewal of its foundations as a practice of desire: one in which revelations of the past are nothing less than harbingers of transformation, in which we find the interactive dimension of shared feeling to be a continual wellspring of healing.'-Jessica Benjamin, author of Beyond Doer and Done To.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Generative Enactments Chapter 2: The Prospective Function Chapter 3: Dramatic Dialogues Chapter 4: Therapeutic Action and Therapeutic Traction Chapter 5: The Truth of the Session Chapter 6: Theatrical Engagement Chapter 7: At-one-ment, Mutual Vulnerability, and Co-Suffering Chapter 8: The Prequel

About the Authors

Galit Atlas, Ph.D., is on the faculty of the New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis, and at the Four-Year Adult and National Training Programs at the National Institute for the Psychotherapies. She is the author of The Enigma of Desire: Sex, Longing and Belonging in Psychoanalysis (Routledge, 2015). Her New York Times article "A Tale of Two Twins" was the winner of 2016 Gradiva award.

Lewis Aron, Ph.D., is the director of the New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis. He is the author and editor of numerous articles and books on psychotherapy and psychoanalysis, including A Meeting of Minds, and co-editor of the Relational Perspectives Book Series. He is well known for his study and reading groups around the world.

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.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

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