The Texture of Treatment : On the Matter of Psychoanalytic Technique book cover
1st Edition

The Texture of Treatment
On the Matter of Psychoanalytic Technique

ISBN 9781138009851
Published September 11, 2014 by Routledge
304 Pages

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Book Description

In simple, jargon-free language, Herbert Schlesinger sets out to demystify technique, to show how it is based on basic principles that are applicable both to psychoanalysis and to the psychotherapies that derive from it.  He has little need for conventional theory;  rather, he reframes essential analytic notions - transference, resistance, interpretation, regression, empathy - as processes and assigns technique the goal of promoting the patient's activity within the treatment situation.  The aim of the analytic therapist is to restore to the patient active control of his own life.
Utilizing basic premises of systems theory, Schlesinger approaches personality and neurosis alike as self-stabilizing systems that can be changed only with persistent effort.  Follow-up interpretations that address the patient's responses to previous interpretations are crucial.  Similarly, the analyst views the transference as "rules of behavior" the patient has created that limit the freedom of both parties in the treatment.  Interpretation speaks to the patient's inability to make full use of the freedom the analytic situation affords to explore how his mind works.  Viewing neuroses as what the patient does, rather than what he has, the analyst sees the "resisting" patient not as opposing the treatment but rather doing what the patient feels he must do both to accommodate to the demands of the script of an unconscious fantasy and to provide for his own sense of safety.
Beautifully illustrated with clinical vignettes and everyday social experiences, The Texture of Treatment is a lucid and engaging presentation of the principles Schlesinger has taught to successive generations of psychiatric residents, clinical psychology interns, clinical social work students, and psychoanalytic candidates.  Taking up elementary matters from an advanced point of view, he has produced a contemporary text whose appeal to seasoned clinicians will be no less that its usefulness to beginning therapists.

Table of Contents

Introduction1. In the Beginning...Was Technique2. The Systems Approach3. Working Principles of Technique4. Transference and the Process of Interpretation5. Transference and Countertransference6. Resistance7. Dreams: Royal Road or Scenic Route?8. From Listening to Interpretation9. The Process of Defense10. On Therapeutic Activity11. Questioning, Con and Pro12. Responding to Patient's Questions13. The Process Point of View14. The Place of Regression in Psychoanalysis15. The Challenge of Regression16. Severe Regression17. Analyzing in the Middle Phase18. Whether and How to Begin a Psychoanalysis19. The Optimal Therapeutic Relationship20. Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy21. Analyzing and Life Change22. Conclusion: Interpretation and Change 

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"Herb Schlesinger has given us a most wonderful gift: the distilled experience of one of the giants of our profession, integrating theory and technique into a meticulously crafted and profoundly thoughtful guide to practice.  He has written the book that is the closest we have to a definitive manual of psychoanalysis.  It is an essential read for anyone who has the ambition to practice psychoanalytic therapy, which includes most of us beginners and the so-called experienced practitioner."

- Peter Fonagy, Ph.D., Freud Memorial Professor of Psychoanalysis, University College London

"Writing authoritatively about psychoanalytic technique while retaining a rapier wit and sense of joy is no mean feat, and Schlesinger achieves it superbly well.  He has a genius for presenting the most sophisticated and compllex concepts in straightforward language.  His descriptions of the system of neurosis maintenence and the process of doing psychoanalysis are unsurpassed.  Reading The Texture of Treatment is like having at one's side a great supervisor who anticipates questions and dilemmas and provides guidance that is encouraging and stimulating.  Schlesinger's convivial style only thinly disguises the depth, brilliance, and rigor of his presentation.  One can open this book to any chapter and find distilled wisdom, new insights, and practical help with difficult problems."

- Arnold M. Cooper, M.D., Professor Emeritus in Psychiatry, Weill Medical College of Cornell University

“The word 'texture' suggests warp and woof, process and outcome, science and art, densities appreciated better by sensory processes than by formal thought.  The texture of psychoanalytic experience can seem inexpressible, even ineffabel.  But somehow, in clear and unpretentious language, Herbert Schlesinger conveys it.  Organized here are inferences from a lifetime of passionate immersion in, and disciplined reflection on, psychotherapy, informed by the author’s incisive intelligence, irreverent wit, and warm heart.  Although wisdom is an elusive term, this book is palpably suffused with it.”

- Nancy McWilliams, Ph.D., Rutgers University

"The Texture of Treatment is relatively jargon-free, and has a hands-on, commonsensical, and practical tone.  There is a unified and user-friendly quality that reflects the author's understated but authoritative presence and personal style.  Schlesinger's humble protestations to the contrary, however, the book is an elegant, sophisticated, and artful contemporary textbook of psychoanalytic technique.  The construction of the book seems rather ingenious and logical.  Schlesinger's individuality, integrity, and wit enliven every principle he espouses.  The book has already become invaluable in my work with students and supervisees. I highly recommend it."

- Gerald I. Fogel, M.D., JAPA 53, 2005 


"…a work that will be a marker in the history of psychoanalytic clinical practice. The writing reflects the thinking: crisp, concise, sincere, honest… Schlesinger’s book will serve beginners in psychoanalysis, but also refresh veterans to remind them of basics, to help rethink impasses…Schlesinger’s thinking about psychoanalysis reminds me of the old Volvo station wagons: solid, very reliable, good for the long-term and equipped with all sorts of gadgets to make traveling a long journey safe and fruitful. It gets you where you really wanted to go."

– Nathan Szajnberg, M.D., Sichot: The Israeli Journal of Psychotherapy