One classic follows another. In Awakening the Dreamer: Clinical Journeys, Philip Bromberg continues the illuminating explorations into dissociation and clinical process begun in his seminal Standing in the Spaces (TAP, 1998). Bromberg is among our most gifted clinical writers, especially in his unique ability to record peripheral variations in relatedness – those subtle, split-second changes that capture the powerful workings of dissociation and, as such, chart the changing self-states that analyst and patient bring to the moment.
Three interrelated contentions weave their way through these essays. For Bromberg, a model of mind premised on the centrality of self-states and dissociation not only offers the optimal lens for comprehending and interpreting clinical data; it also provides maximum leverage for achieving true intersubjective relatedness. And finally, this manner of looking at clinical data offers the best vantage point for integrating psychoanalytic experience with the burgeoning findings of contemporary neuroscience, cognitive and developmental psychology, and attachment research.
But these essays are no esoteric attempt at theory construction for its own sake. Bromberg consistently brings the reader into the felt human experience at the heart of the clinical encounter. Dreams are approached not as texts in need of deciphering but as means of contacting genuine but not yet fully conscious self-states. From here, he explores how the patient’s “dreamer” and the analyst’s “dreamer” can come together to turn the “real” into the “really real” of mutative therapeutic dialogue. The “difficult,” frequently traumatized patient is newly appraised in terms of tensions within the therapeutic dyad. Such patients, Bromberg finds, sense dangers within the dyad that the analyst unwittingly heightens. And then there is the “haunted” patient who carries a sense of preordained doom through years of otherwise productive work – until the analyst can finally feel the patient’s doom as his or her own.
Laced with Bromberg’s characteristic honesty, humor, and thoughtfulness, these essays elegantly attest to the mind’s reliance on dissociation, in both normal and pathological variants, in the ongoing effort to maintain self-organization. Awakening the Dreamer, no less than Standing in the Spaces, is destined to become a permanent part of the literature on therapeutic process and change.
--- from the publisher
"This extraordinary and beautiful book explicates how one mind reads another and why the mind-brain is intrinsically relational." -- Leston Havens, M.D. "Harvard Medical School"
"Whether the wish is to know oneself more deeply, to understand better the psychoanalytic process, or simply to immerse oneself in seamless, elegant prose, Philip Bromberg's "Awakening the Dreamer" is enormously satisfying. Besides showing that the analyst's thoughtful self-revelation is not simply permissible, but actually necessary in the analytic process, Bromberg makes salient connections between leading-edge work in affective neuroscience and the relational psychoanalytic tradition he helped create. A nearly effortless read, "Dreamer "places the reader inside the minds both of a master clinician and of his patients." -- Richard A. Chefetz, M.D. "Past President, International Society for the Study of Dissociation"
"Philip Bromberg's gift is to put himself right 'out there' in the therapeutic encounter without the standard technical' body armor of psychoanalysis. He emphasizes instead the analyst's genuine involvement both as a source of insight and as a guiding frame for the clinical work. His core ideas relating to dissociation, self disclosure, and enactment are compatible with current research in neuroscience and in the psychology of emotion; indeed they help bridge the gap between psychoanalysis and these fields. In "Awakening the Dreamer," Bromberg's gift of emotional connection extends to his brilliant series of clinical illustrations; they engage readers in a way that enables them to participate in the process and not merely to observe it." -- Wilma Bucci, Ph.D. "Professor of Psychology, Derner Institute, Adelphi University"
1. Introduction: When Reality Blinks
PART I: On Self States
2. Bringing in the Dreamer
3. Playing with Boudaries
4. "The Gorilla Did It": Thoughts on the Real and the Really Real
PART II: Collisions and Negotiations
5. Potholes on the Royal Road: Or Is It an Abyss?
6. Treating Patients with Symptoms, and Symptoms with Patience
7. The Analyst's "Self-Revelation": Not Just Permissable, but Necessary
PART III: Safe but Not Too Safe
8. One Need Not Be a House to Be Haunted: A Case Study
9. "Something Wicked This Way Comes": Where Psychoanalysis, Cognitive Science, and Neuroscience Overlap