Self-examination in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy provides open and intimate accounts of the experience of being in psychotherapy. The internal life of the therapist is as much at the heart of the stories told as those of the clients. William F. Cornell here writes in a more personal and literary voice, avoiding as much as possible, the dense theoretical language that often typifies analytic writing.
Central to the thesis elaborated in this book is that of how the therapist’s own personal history and unconscious motivations can deepen or distort the therapist’s understanding of the client. One chapter is devoted to the frank discussion of the author’s work with a client that was not only unhelpful but in fact harmful. Cornell emphasizes the capacity to call one’s self into question as a fundamental outcome of psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. Attention is paid to the conscious and unconscious forces that create profound dynamic tensions between the enlivening desire for a fuller life and the defenses that deaden one’s capacity to think and to engage more fully in one’s life and relationships. The dynamics of transgenerational transmission of grief, loss, and trauma are also examined closely.
The psychotherapist as person and professional, rather than the clients, is at the heart of this book. Self-examination in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy will appeal to all psychoanalysts and psychoanalytic psychotherapists who will find an exceptionally open discussion of the challenges, learning, and meanings of being a psychotherapist.
"This book conveys in a personal voice the emotional experience of being a psychotherapist or a psychoanalyst. Psychoanalysis has mainly been a study of how the patient’s personal history unconsciously shapes the therapeutic relationship over the course of the treatment. Cornell takes another step in focusing on the parallel influence of the therapist’s history within the therapeutic process. Enriching the conceptualization of counter-transference, he stresses the importance of the therapist’s willingness to call their own thoughts and feeling into question in the service of the patient."-Jean-Michel Quinodoz
"The many vignettes in this unique and deeply affecting book are personal stories, not illustrations of ideas. The book rides the line between psychoanalysis and psychotherapy, on one hand, and fiction, on the other. For many of us, that is an ideal. It is for me. Cornell’s vital, committed, warm, and funny presence is thoroughly woven into the mix. We learn about him and his own life, but always in the service of the larger purposes of his book. The wisdom and depth of these stories will move you and contribute to your work. What more can we ask?"-Donnel Stern, Ph.D.
"Once in a very rare while, a professional book comes along that not only challenges readers intellectually, but touches them emotionally as well. William Cornell knows that it is only by examining the ways in which two vulnerable human beings--therapist and patient-- mutually impact each other that we can we truly understand how psychoanalytic therapy leads to change and growth. In this deeply personal set of essays, the author invites us to accompany him into the treatment room, where he provides a rare and treasured glimpse into the heart and mind of a gifted psychotherapist. This will be a compelling read for therapists at all levels of experience as well as anyone with an interest in what it means to endure and transcend personal struggle."-Steven Kuchuck, DSW, Editor, Clinical Implications of the Psychoanalyst’s Subjectivity: When the Personal Becomes Professional; President, International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy
Chapter 1: What Am I Getting Myself Into? Chapter 2: Stumbling in the shadows Chapter 3: Calling one’s self into question Chapter 4: Failure Chapter 5: Finding a mind of one’s own Chapter 6: The Therapist’s Body at Work Chapter 7: The Disappeared Self Chapter 8: Haunted Chapter 9: When Life and Death Hold Hands Chapter 10: Staying alive until the end