The Purloined Self: Interpersonal Perspectives in Psychoanalysis, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Purloined Self

Interpersonal Perspectives in Psychoanalysis, 1st Edition

By Edgar A. Levenson

Edited by Alan Slomowitz


274 pages

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Paperback: 9781138101661
pub: 2016-10-11
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pub: 2016-10-11
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The Purloined Self: Interpersonal Perspectives in Psychoanalysis brings together nineteen essays in updated form, still as relevant, witty and informative today as when the book originally published.

Edgar Levenson is a key figure in the development of Interpersonal psychoanalysis and his ideas remain influential. This book covers his seminal writing on theoretical topics such as models of psychoanalysis, Harry Stack Sullivan’s theories, and the nature of change, as well as his more familiar focus on practical analytic topics such as transference, supervision, and the use of the self in psychoanalytic clinical work.

The content ranges from more technical articles on psychoanalysis and general systems theory, the holographic dimensions of psychoanalytic change; on to issues of metapsychology; and then to articles devoted to examining the nuances of the therapeutic praxis. The general thrust of the book is in the Interpersonal tradition and is a major contribution to a contemporary elaboration of post-Sullivanian Interpersonalism, and of the two-person model of psychoanalysis that has come to permeate the entire field.

With a new foreword by Donnel Stern, himself a major name in current Interpersonal analysis, this book gives a comprehensive overview of Levenson’s work, and its continued relevance in contemporary psychoanalytic thought. The Purloined Self is highly readable: the author’s witty essayist style and original perspective on its material has made it appealing across a wide range of readerships. It will appeal to psychoanalysts and psychoanalytic psychotherapists as well as undergraduate and advanced postgraduate students in these fields.


"Who else combines so much playfulness together with deeply felt experience? Psychoanalysis has in Edgar Levenson a master critic and renewer."–Leston L. Havens, M.D. (1924-2011)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments by Edgar Levenson

Foreword, by Donnel Stern, Ph.D..

Preface, by Alan Slomowitz, Ph.D.


1 Changing Concepts of Intimacy in Psychoanalytic Practice

2 A Holographic Model of Psychoanalytic Change

3 Psychoanalysis: Cure or Persuasion?

4 General Systems Theory: Model or Muddle?

5 A Perspective on Responsibility

6 Language and Healing

7 More Different Than Alike: Speculations on the

Uniqueness of the Psychoanalytic Experience

8 Facts or Fantasies: On the Nature of Psychoanalytic Data

9 Follow the Fox: An Inquiry into the Vicissitudes of Psychoanalytic Supervision

10 Playground or Playpen

11 Harry Stack Sullivan: The Web and the Spider

12 The Interpersonal (Sullivanian) Model

13 An Interpersonal Perspective

14 The Purloined Self

15 The Pursuit of the Particular: On the Psychoanalytic Inquiry

16 Show and Tell: The Recursive Order of Transference

17 Real Frogs in Imaginary Gardens: Facts and Fantasies in Psychoanalysis

18Whatever Happened to the Cat? Interpersonal Perspectives on the Self

19 Character, Personality, and the Politics of Change

Bibliography of Edgar A. Levenson, M. D.

About the Author/Editor

Edgar A. Levenson is Fellow Emeritus, Training, Supervisory Analyst and Faculty at the William Alanson White Institute. He is Adjunct Clinical Professor of Psychology at the NYU Graduate Studies Division, Honorary Fellow at the Postgraduate Center for Mental Health, Honorary Member of the American Psychoanalytic Association, Life Fellow of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis, and Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. Winner of the 2006 Mary S. Sigourney Award, he is author of over one hundred and ten publications, including Fallacy of Understanding (1972) and The Ambiguity of Change (1983).

Alan Slomowitz, Ph.D., is a graduate of the Division I program in Psychoanalysis at the William Alanson White Institute. He is a Supervisor of Psychotherapy at the White Institute, on the Editorial Board of Contemporary Psychoanalysis, and the Internet Editor of the Contemporary Psychoanalysis in Action blog. Dr. Slomowitz is in private practice in New York City.

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 / Movements / Psychoanalysis