"A lively account of the intellectual and professional evolution of a psychotherapist, with enlightening comments on rival therapeutic schools."
-- J. M. Coetzee, Nobel Prize Winner in Literature, 2003
In the best therapeutic tradition, Louis Breger describes contemporary theories and research in the field of analytic psychotherapy. Through the framework of his personal experiences as a scholar, researcher, and therapist, he focuses on his relationships with patients over the span of his fifty-year career. He records their reactions, in their own words, to their experience with psychotherapy many years after its conclusion.
The author surveyed over thirty former patients to see if their progress, begun in therapy, had continued, expanded, or regressed. They were asked to highlight what they remembered as being most helpful, therapeutic, or curative in their treatment. The book is a unique long-term follow-up demonstrating the effectiveness of modern analytic psychotherapy.
Breger deals primarily with the connections between therapist and patient. This is a professional memoir of the life of the psychotherapist dealing with the trials of a young practitioner, lessons learned, and personal reflections on the choices, including mistakes, made along the way. Experienced and young therapists, and people involved in or considering psychotherapy, will find it helpful to have access to this self-reflective approach.
Extracts from the patients are extensive and informative, giving the reader the opportunity to see therapy from their perspectives. The book also centers on the development of the therapist over his career span. Breger acknowledges that his understanding of patient care has improved over time in the eyes of his patients. In a larger sense, the book contains lessons for all psychotherapists. This is an important, unique, and innovative work.
A brave and gifted therapist asks his former patients what helped -- and what didn't help -- in the course of his work with them. Their answers, and his reflections on their answers, have produced a breathtakingly honest, profoundly informative, and enormously readable book.
-- Judith Viorst, author of Necessary Losses
The book beautifully portrays the complexity and humanity of psychotherapy.... This unique book contains lessons and hopeful inspiration for professional therapists, current and prospective clients, and anyone who is curious about rewarding human relationships.
-- Phillip R. Shaver, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Psychology, University of California, Davis. Author of Attachment in Adulthood and Human Aggression and Violence
[A]n original contribution that is destined to become a classic. This book will be of great value to anyone considering entering psychotherapy... and will in my view be of importance for students and professionals in our field for decades to come.
-- George E. Atwood, Ph.D., professor of psychology, Rutgers University, author of The Abyss of Madness
[A] unique and important contribution to the literature on psychotherapy -- the first full-length volume I know of in which a psychoanalytic clinician has reported his clients' reflections on their therapy with him, often many years after the experience. The book is full of rich, thoughtful insights about ... the struggle to heal.
-- Nancy McWilliams, Ph.D., professor, Rutgers Graduate School of Applied & Professional Psychology, author of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy and Psychoanalytic Diagnosis
This is a most impressive work, unique in its honesty and respect for the patient's experience. This book reminds us that while the best humane engagements are often unpredictable, they are at the heart of what turns out to be therapeutic for our patients.
-- Leslie Brothers, M.D., author of Friday's Footprint: How Society Shapes the Human Mind and Mistaken Identity: The Mind-Brain Problem Reconsidered
For everyone who has wanted a chance to tell their psychotherapist/analyst what they thought of their treatment, this is the book you must read. It will also be of interest to therapists, patients and all those contemplating therapy.
-- Brenda Webster, author of The Last Good Freudian and Vienna Triangle