The Fallacy of Understanding & The Ambiguity of Change: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Fallacy of Understanding & The Ambiguity of Change

1st Edition

By Edgar Levenson


440 pages

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In The Fallacy of Understanding (1972) and The Ambiguity of Change (1983), Edgar Levenson elaborated the many ways in which the psychoanalyst and the patient interact - unconsciously, continuously, inevitably. For Levenson, it was impossible for the analyst not to interact with the patient, and the therapeutic power of analysis derived from the analyst's ability to step back from the interactive embroilment (and the mutual enactments to which it led) and to reflect with the patient on what each was doing to, and with, the other.

Invariably, Levenson found, the analyst-analysand interaction reprised patterns of experience that typified the analysand's early family relationships. The reconceptualization of the analyst-analysand relationship and of the manner in which the analytic process unfolded would become foundational to contemporary interpersonal and relational approaches to psychoanalysis and psychotherapy. But Levenson's perspective was revolutionary at the time of its initial formulation in The Fallacy of Understanding and remained so at the time of its fuller elaboration in The Ambiguity of Change.

The Analytic Press is pleased to reprint within the Psychoanalysis in a New Key Book Beries two works that have proven influential in the realignment of psychoanalytic thought and practice away from Freudian drive theory and toward a contemporary appreciation of clinical process in its interactive, enactive, and participatory dimensions. Newly introduced by series editor Donnel Stern, The Fallacy of Understanding and The Ambiguity of Change are richly deserving of the designation "contemporary classics" of psychoanalysis.

Table of Contents

Stern, Introduction. The Fallacy of Understanding. Introduction: The Time-Bound Nature of Psychoanalytic Truth. "Things Fade: Alternatives Exclude" - Psychoanalytic Theory in Flux. Reviving the Ancient Search for Truth as Relevancy. Structuralism: A Modern Version of that Archaic Inquiry. The Paradigm: Pervasive Model of Change in Time. The Changing Model of Psychoanalytic Theory. The Changing Model of the Psychoanalytic Patient. From Anna O To Portnoy: A Perspectivist Reassessment. The Emergence of the Young Adult as Man of His Times. Dropping Out: Contemporary Psychopathology. Treating the Dropout: The Politics of Concern. Clinical Elaborations: The Choreography of Psychotherapy. "They Became What They Beheld": Transformation Elaborated. Focusing the Therapy Issues. Conclusion: Summary and Feeble Prognostications. The Ambiguity of Change. Introduction. Freud's Choice: Facts or Fiction. The Oedipus Myth: Conflict or Mystery. Psycholigical Process: Dynamics or Semiotics. The Symptom as Meaning: Intrapsychic vs. Interpersonal Perspectives. Praxis: The Common Ground of Therapy. Praxis: The Field of Play. Praxis: Uses of the Transference. Psychoanalysis: Cure or Persuasion. The Moral Posture: Sincerity or Authenticity. Models of the Mind: Landscape or Network . Harry Stack Sullivan: The Web and the Spider. Object Relations Theory: Bridge or Bypass. Conclusion.

About the Series

Psychoanalysis in a New Key Book Series

When music is played in a new key, the melody does not change, but the notes that make up the composition do: change in the context of continuity, continuity that perseveres through change. Psychoanalysis in a New Key publishes books that share the aims psychoanalysts have always had, but that approach them differently. The books in the series are not expected to advance any particular theoretical agenda, although to this date most have been written by analysts from the Interpersonal and Relational orientations.

The most important contribution of a psychoanalytic book is the communication of something that nudges the reader’s grasp of clinical theory and practice in an unexpected direction. Psychoanalysis in a New Key creates a deliberate focus on innovative and unsettling clinical thinking. Because that kind of thinking is encouraged by exploration of the sometimes surprising contributions to psychoanalysis of ideas and findings from other fields, Psychoanalysis in a New Key particularly encourages interdisciplinary studies. Books in the series have married psychoanalysis with dissociation, trauma theory, sociology, and criminology. The series is open to the consideration of studies examining the relationship between psychoanalysis and any other field – for instance, biology, literary and art criticism, philosophy, systems theory, anthropology, and political theory.

But innovation also takes place within the boundaries of psychoanalysis, and Psychoanalysis in a New Key therefore also presents work that reformulates thought and practice without leaving the precincts of the field. Books in the series focus, for example, on the significance of personal values in psychoanalytic practice, on the complex interrelationship between the analyst’s clinical work and personal life, on the consequences for the clinical situation when patient and analyst are from different cultures, and on the need for psychoanalysts to accept the degree to which they knowingly satisfy their own wishes during treatment hours, often to the patient’s detriment.

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Subject Categories

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