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Terrors and Experts


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Adam Phillips was formerly Principal Child Psychotherapist at Charing Cross Hospital in London. He is the author of, most recently, Darwin's Worms, Promises, Promises, Equals and Houdini's Box, and he is the Series Editor of the new Penguin Freud translations.


Psychoanalysts, argues Phillips (On Kissing, Tickling, and Being Bored), must realize that psychic life will always be much more complicated than the explanations they impose on it; they must give up the authority over experience once granted them by our culture. The chapter entitled "Authorities'' uses letters between Freud and disciple Sandor Ferenczi to illustrate current critiques of analysts acting as father figures. Other chapters re-examine fundamental psychoanalytic concepts ("Fears,'' "Dreams,'' "Sexes'') and demonstrate how the analyst might utilize the patient's own beliefs about him- or herself in making sense of experience: we might all be "experts" if properly listened to. The chapter on "Symptoms'' presents material from the couch, allowing us to observe how Phillips's gentle interventions during therapy actually work. Although the book insistently draws out the theoretical and philosophical implications of its premises, it is lucid and will be comprehensible to those with a lay understanding of Freud's thinking. (Mar.)

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