Psychotherapy: Lives Intersecting

Psychotherapy: Lives Intersecting

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ISBN: 978-1-4128-4575-5
Pages: 154
Binding: Hardcover
Publication Date: 02-10-2012
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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 primarily deals with the connections between therapist and patient. This is a professional memoir of the life of the psychotherapist dealing with trials as a young practitioner, lessons learned, and personal reflections on the choices, including mistakes, made along the way. Young therapists, and those who are 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.

*Click here for an interview with the author.

*Click here for an interview with the author on KQED's Forum with Michael Krasny

Editorial Reviews

"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

"Louis Breger offers an insightful and honest analysis of what his more successful patients found important about his therapeutic style (he also addresses the responses of those that didn’t find him particularly useful), allowing for readers to carve their own path in coming to a conclusion about whether psychotherapy and psychoanalysis might be a useful journey."

—Phillipe Kleefield, International Journal of Psychotherapy 

"Reading Lou’s book, unique among my reactions to reading psychoanalytic books, was a heart warming experience. I was a tad sad when I reached the end."

—Joe Schachter, Contemporary Psychoanalysis

"As a relational therapist, making this book available to my students and supervisees will, I hope, serve them as an excellent example of the profound significance that lies in the therapist’s awareness of the way in which her life-story, beliefs, vulnerabilities, and strengths shape her identity and therapeutic work…. I have no doubt that this scholarly-cum-biographical volume can help to reinforce the bridge between psychoanalysis, psychotherapy and research in such a way as to strengthen the efficacy of psychotherapy."

Journal of Psychotherapy Integration

“You can’t really know what it is like to be in psychoanalysis—unless you actually are in psychoanalysis—until now. Through his fascinating new book, Psychotherapy: Lives Intersecting, retired psychoanalyst Louis Breger and his former patients tell it like it really is… Because privacy is so essential to its success, psychoanalytic work is usually shut behind closed doors. But Lou Breger came up with an approach to open those doors in an ethical and liberating way… Dr.  Breger’s book allows you to enter into his office, pull up a chair, and listen in.”

—Jennifer Kunst,

“Lous Breger[,] in his excellent Psychotherapy: Lives Intersecting, … traces his own journey from classical analyst to human analyst…. If you are interested in how therapy ought to work, I recommend Psychotherapy: Lives Intersecting.”

—Eric Maisel,

“I have recently come across the immensely readable (and highly autobiographical) primer by Louis Breger, Psychotherapy Lives Intersecting… which adds the perspective of former patients, what they found helpful and unhelpful in their treatments, to the pearls gleaned from his vast experience as a psychoanalyst… What is unique about this book is that the many clinical vignettes are enriched by reflections from patients about their own psychoanalytic journeys, something the reader may find courageous… As a traditionally trained analyst who also found a relational home in contemporary theories, I found it wonderful to immerse myself in a book where I found like mindedness.”

—Lycia Alexander-Guerra, Contemporary Psychoanalytic Musings

“Louis Breger, in this excellent book, not only invites his reader into the deepest comers of his consultation room but also displays a most intimate description of his personal development as a practitioner of contemporary modern psychoanalytic therapy. His warmth, humanitarianism, and appreciation of his patients we would all do well to share.”

—Sheldon M. Goodman,

“This book provides a historical perspective that is difficult to capture as psychoanalysis fades as a primary treatment of mental disorders. The biggest strength of this little book, however, is Breger's easy writing and warm, inviting, and caring style... it's a quick, compelling, and enjoyable read, written by a man whose masterful skill as a psychotherapist weaves through every page.”

—Dr. Dinah Miller,

“[T]his book belongs in the hands of all friends of psychotherapy, those considering therapy for themselves, and those who are trying to help family or friends make a decision about psychotherapy. Though a professional memoir covering professional subjects, it is still accessible to an educated and interested layperson… [U]nique in its field.”

—Norman Costa,

“[U]nique and valuable…. Psychoanalysis is notoriously under-researched, so this is a model, a breakthrough…. [Breger] provides a guide and a mirror for new and experienced therapists, their teachers and their clients. His pioneering achievement is a gift and a challenge for all of us who care about psychotherapy.”

—E. James Lieberman, Metapsychology Online Reviews

“Thoughtful, well-documented, readable and informative … Dr. Breger's narrative and the anecdotal material are warm, sensitive and rich…. I highly recommend this book for those who want to learn and think more about the therapeutic process.”

—Newell Fischer, MD

“In Psychotherapy: Lives Intersecting, experienced therapist Louis Breger takes us inside some fascinating, highly varied therapeutic relationships to see how they are regarded, years later, by both him and his former clients. The book beautifully portrays the complexity and humanity of psychotherapy, which is still well beyond the grasp of any theory. Both therapist and client are ‘human, all too human’; they make mistakes, have misunderstandings, and draw different lessons from their interactions. But in the process, they grow, gain genuine insights, and come to care deeply and lastingly for each other. 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 

“Louis Breger’s new book is 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 resulting long-range perspective on the clinical encounter as it actually unfolded—not as it is shown in manuals or measured for research purposes—bears witness to the extraordinary complexity of the therapy relationship. The book is full of rich, thoughtful insights about the patients, the therapist, the relationship sculpted by their respective psychologies, and the struggle to heal. Clearly written and extraordinarily candid, Psychotherapy: Lives Intersecting is a page-turner that will be welcomed by patients, students, and all practitioners of psychotherapy.”

—Nancy McWilliams, PhD, Professor, Rutgers Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology

“In Psychotherapy: Lives Intersecting, Louis Breger has given us an original contribution that is destined to become a classic. His book recounts, in a jargon-free, easy style, the stories of numerous patients he worked with over close to fifty years as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist. The discussions include important details of Lou’s own personal history and also a series of first-person reflections on the psychotherapy experience by many of the patients themselves. This mix of personal revelation with his patients’ own evaluations of their experiences opens a unique window into the experience of psychotherapy and its enormous potential to achieve lasting positive results in our lives. This book will be of great value to anyone considering entering psychotherapy. It also significantly illuminates the intertwining of patient and therapist in the unfolding clinical process, and will in my view be of importance for students and professionals in our field for decades to come.”

—George E. Atwood, PhD, Professor of Psychology, Rutgers University

“This is a most impressive work, unique in its honesty and respect for the patient's experience.  Breger shows that we can add “the case history” to the category of so-called objective accounts which we now realize are more subjective and ideologically driven than we thought.  In contrast to that objectivizing exercise are the unexpected high-intensity connections recalled by Breger's patients — for example, when patient and therapist were surprised by a bout of shared laughter, or when the usual boundaries were thrown into question and re-drawn for a moment.  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.  Breger intercuts descriptions of his patients’ difficulties with their reminiscences about the talking cure as he practices it and its effect on their lives.  He emerges as a compassionate, responsive and flexible therapist, and also one with a sense of humor.”

—Brenda Webster, author of The Last Good Freudian and Vienna Triangle

“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. I love it. And so will all but the most hard-line practitioners of analytic psychotherapy. And so will their patients — past, present, and future.  And so will just about anyone who has ever wondered how a good therapeutic relationship can constructively and enduringly transform lives.”

—Judith Viorst, author of Necessary Losses

“For therapists, I suggest this book takes up intermittent residence on their shelves, being re-read every couple of years or any time they are feeling frustrated or nearing burn out. While Breger reflects fondly on therapy, both as doctor and patient, there is much encouragement that can be drawn from his stories. In addition, there are techniques and much about the key components of therapy that can be absorbed and serve as a good reminder for professionals. I would place this book along side Yalom as an essential text for therapists in training.”

—Brooke Randolph, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Indiana

“An easy read, conversational in tone, illuminating how a seasoned psychotherapist balances self-reflection with engagement of a patient in a dialogal analytic process. . . . This book is invaluable for the beginning psychotherapist who wants to look over the shoulders of an accomplished analyst to understand how analytic psychotherapy might be conducted as well as how a clinician’s personality and values influence the process.  It is equally valuable for experienced psychotherapists who might want to evaluate their own therapeutic approach. . . . I highly recommend this book.”

—Robert A. Carrere, Robert A. Carrere, Ph.D., ABPP, Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California

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