1st Edition

Understanding and Treating Patients in Clinical Psychoanalysis Lessons from Literature

By Sandra Buechler Copyright 2015
    152 Pages
    by Routledge

    152 Pages
    by Routledge

    Understanding and Treating Patients in Clinical Psychoanalysis: Lessons from Literature describes the problematic ways people learn to cope with life’s fundamental challenges, such as maintaining self-esteem, bearing loss, and growing old. People tend to deal with the challenges of being human in characteristic, repetitive ways. Descriptions of these patterns in diagnostic terms can be at best dry, and at worst confusing, especially for those starting training in any of the clinical disciplines. To try to appeal to a wider audience, this book illustrates each coping pattern using vivid, compelling fiction whose characters express their dilemmas in easily accessible, evocative language. Sandra Buechler uses these examples to show some of the ways we complicate our lives and, through reimagining different scenarios for these characters, she illustrates how clients can achieve greater emotional health and live their lives more productively.

    Drawing on the work of Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Munro, Mann, James, O’Connor, Chopin, McCullers, Carver, and the many other authors represented here, Buechler shows how their keen observational short fiction portrays self-hurtful styles of living. She explores how human beings cope using schizoid, paranoid, grandiose, hysteric, obsessive, and other defensive styles. Each is costly, in many senses, and each limits the possibility for happiness and fulfillment.

    Understanding and Treating Patients in Clinical Psychoanalysis offers insights into what living with and working with problematic behaviors really means through a series of examples of the major personality disorders as portrayed in literature. Through these fictitious examples, clinicians and trainees, and undergraduate and graduate students can gain a greater understanding of how someone becomes paranoid, schizoid, narcissistic, obsessive, or depressive, and how that affects them, and those around them, including the mental health professionals who work with them.

    Introduction: Characters in Fiction as Templates for Clinical Assessment and Treatment, 1. Schizoid Relating, 2. Paranoid Processing, 3. Humiliated Suffering, 4. Grandiose Posturing, 5. Hysterical Bargaining, 6. Obsessive, Controlling, 7. Anguished Grieving, 8. Depressive Self-Harming, 9. Generative Aging.


    Sandra Buechler is a training and supervising analyst at the William Alanson White Institute. She is also a supervisor at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital’s internship and postdoctoral programs, and a supervisor at the Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy. Her publications include Clinical Values: Emotions that Guide Psychoanalytic Treatment (Routledge, 2004), Making a Difference in Patients’ Lives: Emotional Experience in the Therapeutic Setting (Routledge, 2008), and Still Practicing: The Heartaches and Joys of a Clinical Career (Routledge, 2012).

    "In her latest book, Understanding and Treating Patients in Clinical Psychoanalysis: Lessons from Literature, Sandra Buechler summarizes and quotes from a myriad of the best works of fiction that depict the ways people address the challenge of being a person. The book stands out for its originality and vivid, creative style. It really is a double pleasure to read, firstly for the author's deft summaries of the stories, followed by her marvelously insightful comments and interpretations. Her choice of fictional works is every book lover's dream and she uses each one to narrate and share some important psychoanalytic concepts in a fresh and engaging way. To me, it is almost as though each illustrative story were a musical note added to the score of a symphony, with, of course, Sandra Buechler as its composer. What a masterpiece she has created. I enjoyed this book immensely and cannot recommend it highly enough."—Antonino Ferro, President of the Italian Psychoanalytic Society

    "Sandra Buechler continues in the spirit that Freud initiated over one hundred years ago. She uses vivid, compelling short fiction to udnerstand the repetitive ways human beings engage in self-defeating patterns. She, too, believes that good literature can offer a clinician considerable insight into the problems of his or her patients. [...] [Short] stories can be read within a week, making them ideal for teaching. [...] [She] aims at getting at the heart of what it means to suffer. [...] This effort is about patients in their full, complex humanity rather than as simple diagnostic codes. [...] We learn from her that good fiction can organize our understanding, perhaps not unlike what a good therapist does. Without reducing her argument to analyzable abstractions, Buechler expands the outer limits of our knowing and our imagining." --Spyros D. Orfanos, PsyCRITIQUES, October 2015