1st Edition

The Suffering Stranger Hermeneutics for Everyday Clinical Practice

By Donna M. Orange Copyright 2011
    279 Pages
    by Routledge

    280 Pages
    by Routledge

    Winner of the 2012 Gradiva Award!

    Utilizing the hermeneutics of Hans-Georg Gadamer and the ethics of Emmanuel Lévinas, The Suffering Stranger invigorates the conversation between psychoanalysis and philosophy, demonstrating how each is informed by the other and how both are strengthened in unison. Orange turns her critical (and clinical) eye toward five major psychoanalytic thinkers – Sándor Ferenczi, Frieda Fromm-Reichmann, D. W. Winnicott, Heinz Kohut, and Bernard Brandchaft – investigating the hermeneutic approach of each and engaging these innovative thinkers precisely as interpreters, as those who have seen the face and heard the voice of the other in an ethical manner. In doing so, she provides the practicing clinician with insight into the methodology of interpretation that underpins the day-to-day activity of analysis, and broadens the scope of possibility for philosophical extensions of psychoanalytic theory.

    What is Hermeneutics? The Suffering Stranger and the Hermeneutics of Trust. Sándor Ferenczi: The Analyst of Last Resort and the Hermeneutics of Trauma. Frieda Fromm-Reichmann: Incommunicable Loneliness. D. W. Winnicott: Humanitarian without Sentimentality. Heinz Kohut: Glimpsing the Hidden Suffering. Bernard Brandchaft: Liberating the Incarcerated Spirit. Afterword: The Next Step.


    Donna M. Orange, Ph.D., Psy.D., is a faculty member at the Institute for Specialization in the Psychoanalytic Psychology of the Self (Rome) and at the Institute for the Psychoanalytic Study of Subjectivity in New York. She lives in New York City.

    "In the deft hands of Donna Orange, philosophy and clinical psychoanalysis are bridged through the hermeneutics of trust, which she contrasts with a view of human nature saturated with suspicion. To join her accessible explication and close reading of a wealth of scholarly writing makes not only for an exciting intellectual adventure but also will touch our humanity at its core. She helps us to become better clinicians by subtly formulating an ethic for human relations that can operate beyond clinical practice. The Suffering Stranger recognizes the commonality of suffering and estrangement that plagues therapist and patient alike and offers a perspective that can move us beyond suffering to connect with ourselves and others." - Frank M. Lachmann, author of Transforming Narcissism (Routledge, 2008)

    "There are few psychoanalysts who can match Donna Orange's compassion for ethical and vocational aspects of psychoanalysis, and few can write better about the way these aspects of our field are informed by Gadamerian hermeneutics and Lévinsian ethics. Her choice of the five "subversives" who dared to challenge the analytic status quo of their times demonstrates her central thesis convincingly. The value of this book is greatly enhanced by her remarkable ability to write with clarity, fluency, and a sense of immediacy that makes her message come vividly alive." - Anna Ornstein, Boston Psychoanalytic Institute, USA

    "Donna Orange, a serious philosophy scholar and teacher prior to her psychoanalytic career, has been perfectly situated intellectually to contribute to the current upsurge of interest in philosophy among psychoanalysts. The Suffering Stranger is a treat for those familiar with her work and is especially useful to clinicians who haven't yet recognized the significance of philosophy to their clinical practice. Chapters devoted to Ferenczi, Fromm-Reichman, Winnicott, Kohut, and Brandchaft focus on their human spirit and attitude of trust, underpinnings that decisively influenced their ways of being with, listening to, and talking with their patients. Her engaging treatments of these classically trained psychoanalytic innovators explicate the 'hermeneutics of trust' and illustrate the ethical responsibility delineated by Lévinas and Gadamer. Some may be delighted to discover (like Moliere's character who exclaimed, 'Good Heavens!...I have been speaking prose without knowing it') they have always, if unknowingly, had a philosophical basis for their own interpretive style. All will usefully gain enhanced awareness of the sensibilities in psychoanalytic theories." - Shelley Doctors, co-author of Toward an Emancipatory Psychoanalysis (Routledge, 2010)