The Illusion of Understanding?

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Originally published in Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 1994, Vol 39(2), 175–177. Reviews the book, Aggression in Personality Disorders and Perversions by Otto F. Kernberg (1992). This book presents an excellent review of many of Kernberg's central theoretical premises and applies his distinctive synthesis of object relations and conflict theory to a range of different personality disorders and perversions. In general, the book is broad, eclectic, synthetic, and clinically astute. Because a considerable amount of it is reprinted from previously published material, most of it will not be new to those already familiar with Kernberg's work. The material is, however, woven together well into a coherent whole. But despite Kernberg's espoused wariness of premature and theoretically driven interpretations, his general style contrasts sharply with that of a growing number of theorists in the analytic tradition. These theorists emphasize the importance of the therapist's subjectivity and of cultivating an analytic stance of not knowing, that is, of allowing understanding to emerge in its own terms through the interaction with the patient rather than of imposing one's preconceptions on the experience. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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