The Psychoanalyst's Superegos, Ego Ideals and Blind Spots: The Emotional Development of the Clinician, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Psychoanalyst's Superegos, Ego Ideals and Blind Spots

The Emotional Development of the Clinician, 1st Edition

By Vic Sedlak


198 pages

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Psychotherapists and psychoanalysts enter an emotional relationship when they treat a patient; no matter how experienced they may be, their personalities inform but also limit their ability to recognise and give thought to what happens in the consulting room. The Psychoanalyst’s Superegos, Ego Ideals and Blind Spots investigates the nature of these constrictions on the clinician’s sensitivity.

Vic Sedlak examines clinicians’ fear of a superego which threatens to become censorious of themselves or their patient and their need to aspire to standards demanded by their ego ideals. These dynamic forces are considered in relation to treatments which fail, to supervision and to recent innovations in psychoanalytic technique. The difficulty of giving thought to hostility is particularly stressed.

Richly illustrated with clinical material, this book will enable practitioners to recognise the unconscious forces which militate against their clinical effectiveness.


"This pilgrim’s progress of one psychoanalyst’s professional and personal growth has the ring of truth, beautiful even when painful, opening wisdom that can come only from difficult clinical experience approached with relentless inquiry and ruthless honesty. Clearly knowing our several theories, Sedlak transcends their limits, staying ever true to the anguished uncertainties of clinical actuality. Compelling to read, this beautifully written report of one analyst’s struggles was, for me, emotionally evocative and educationally enlightening. It is a compelling master class in the perplexity of analytic exploration, where each journey is original and unique."-Warren S. Poland, Sigourney Awardee 2009, Author Intimacy and Separateness in Psychoanalysis

"Vic Sedlak is much admired as a psychoanalyst who can sustain an independent point of view and is not afraid to speak his mind. Here he examines the role of the analyst’s reactions and responses in the psychoanalytic session. He covers a wide field but for me he is particularly convincing when he describes how the analyst’s responsiveness is especially affected by his capacity to accept the emergence of hatred, hostility and destructiveness in his patient and also in himself. His arguments and the vivid clinical material makes for fascinating reading that all those working in the mental health field will find valuable and stimulating."-John Steiner, Training and Supervising Psychoanalyst, Distinguished Fellow, British Psychoanalytical Society

"Anyone who is interested in understanding the unconscious dynamics in the therapist/patient relationship will be rewarded by reading Vic Sedlak’s accessible and insightful study of the "glancing" thought; the thought that the clinician resists knowing without knowing he or she is avoiding it. Sedlak, a highly respected and experienced psychoanalyst, writes openly and honestly about the role his super-ego and ego ideal play in supporting or impeding his efforts to recognise and understand the glancing thought in his on-going clinical practice and supervision."-Donald Campbell, Training and supervising analyst, Distinguished Fellow and past President, British Psychoanalytic Society

Table of Contents

Introduction 1: The Aims of Psychoanalytical Treatment 2: The Psychoanalyst’s Superegos 3: From Dread to Anxiety 4: The Psychoanalyst’s Ego Ideals 5: Contemplating Analytic Failure 6: The work of supervision 7: Considering Other Approaches 8: Hostility Terminable and Interminable

About the Author

Vic Sedlak is a Training and Supervising Psychoanalyst of the British Psychoanalytical Society in private practice in the North of England.

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