"Insight" and "Change." The problematic relationship between these two concepts, to which the reality of psychoanalytic patients who fully understand maladaptive patterns without being able to change them attests, has dogged psychoanalysis for a century. Building on the integrative object relations model set forth in Transcending the Self (1999), Frank Summers turns to Winnicott's notion of "potential space" in order to elaborate a fresh clinical approach for transforming insight into new ways of being and relating. For Summers, understanding occurs within transference space, but the latter must be translated into potential space if insight is to give rise to change in the world outside the consulting room. Within potential space, Summers holds, the analyst's task shifts from understanding the present to aiding and abetting the patient in creating a new future. This means that the analyst must draw on her hard-won understanding of the patient to construct a vision of who the patient can become. Lasting therapeutic change grows out of the analyst's and patient's collaboration in developing new possibilities of being that draw on the patient's affective predispositions and buried aspects of self.
In the second half of the book, Summers applies this model of therapeutic action to common clinical syndromes revolving around depression, narcissistic injuries, somatic symptoms, and internalized bad objects. Here we find vivid documentation of specific clinical strategies in which the therapeutic use of potential space gives rise to new ways of being and relating which, in turn, anchor the creation of a new sense of self.
"In this erudite and stimulating book, Summers demonstrates psychoanalytic theorizing at its best. Summers is an original thinker and, obviously, a compassionate and committed therapist. But he also serves as a model of how we can learn from each other, and how we, as theoretical pioneers, can explore the theoretical terrain of our colleagues without colonizing or laying waste to their lands. Of all the great gifts in this book, Summers offers this one throughout: he comes in peace."
- David Anderegg, Ph.D., Psychologist-Psychoanalyst
"Drawing on several rich traditions within psychoanalytic writing, Summers provides an original and necessary view of how psychoanalytic psychotherapy can facilitate change of the self. His many clinical examples demonstrate his thesis and give the reader a down-to-earth sense of how to go about doing what Summers proposes."
- Christopher Bollas, Ph.D., Author, Dark at the End of the Tunnel
“Summers offer a substantial development of Winnicott's perspective, contending that change does not occur through understanding alone, but rather requires the specific recognition of the patient's potential for agency and the welcoming of her spontaneous gestures. Deftly merging philosophical erudition with practical experience, Summers takes us to the heart of the clinical enterprise, the ability to uncover the seeds of a possible future beneath the familiar layers of yesterday’s repetitions. Saturated with the details of live interaction, tuned in to the small voice of desire, Self Creation strives to teach the unteachable: how to listen.”
- Jessica Benjamin, Ph.D., Author, Like Subjects, Love Objects
"Summers' approach to therapy is challenging and inovative and carries the intersubjective to new levels that deserve thoughtful consideration."
-W.W. Meisnner, S.J., M.D. in Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic, Vol. 71, No. 3 (Summer 2007)
I. A Psychoanalytic Theory of Self Creation
1. Potential Space in Psychoanalytic Therapy
2. The Future as Intrinsic to the Psychoanalytic Process
3. The Therapist's Vision of the Patient
4. Therapeutic Action as the Creation of Meaning
5. Psychoanalytic Therapy as the Art of Possibilities
6. The Analyst's Process: The Mind of the Other
II. Clinical Applications
7. The Disowned Body
8. Depression: The Collapsed Self
9. Relinquishing Bad Objects
10. Healing Narcissistic Wounds