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The Prisonhouse of Psychoanalysis (1990)
Goldberg, Arnold
Routledge / The Analytic Press / Softcover / 2018-12-01 / 1138869538
price: $69.90 (may be subject to change)
188 pages
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In The Prisonhouse of Psychoanalysis, Arnold Goldberg trains a searching, critical eye on his own profession. His subject matter is the system of interlocking constraints - theoretical, institutional, educational - that imprisons psychoanalysis and the psychoanalyst. His agenda is to sketch the shape analysis might take in the absence of these constraints. What emerges from these twin endeavors is a penetrating critique of psychoanalysis from the inside - from the vantage point of a senior analyst who has labored for many years within the prisonhouse that he now criticizes.

In proffering an alternative vision of psychoanalysis, Goldberg ventures into recent literature in epistemology, philosophy of science, cognitive psychology, and the neurosciences, so that one valuable byproduct of his work is a brilliant application of insights culled from these fields to the question of what analysis is, and what it may yet become. His examination of "psychoanalysis without foundations" challenges the ability of infancy research data and neurological findings, respectively, to provide an empirical rock bottom from which psychoanalytic theory-building can proceed. His chapter on "psychoanalysis without representations" reviews the analytic literature on the latter concept, only to show how recent theories of brain processing, including connectionism, provides a basis for understanding mental phenomena without any intermediary representations. Finally, his vision of "psychoanalysis without a subject" assesses recent findings about the nature of memory, insights of contemporary philosophy, and Kohut's notion of the selfobject as converging tributaries that make possible an analysis that dispenses with the conventional dichotomy of subject and object.


"Firmly, Arnold Goldberg holds up a mirror to our collective face and shows us suffering from paralyzing theoretical constraints, from idolizing addiction to heroes, and from philosophical chaos of thought and passion, all confused. With a wit and a charm that is all too rare in our literature, Goldberg confronts us with the liberating insight that in our own hands we bear the power to cancel this captivity. This excellent book is a Magna Carta for psychoanalytic science. Brilliant and thoughtful, a real intellectual achievement, this volume rewards careful reading."

- Ernest S. Wolf, M.D., Training and Supervising Analyst, Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis

"Goldberg has written a refreshingly candid book that puts us on notice that the winds of change are beginning to sweep through the halls of the psychoanalytic establishment. By challenging the old shibboleths he demonstrates that it is no longer possible for a single monolithic paradigm to dominate the psychoanalytic scene. In place of past dogmas, he espouses a pragmatic approach in which each theoretical concept must be evaluated according to its fallability rather than its provenance from some heroic figure in the history of analysis. The Prisonhouse of Psychoanalysis should be on the required reading list of all who fear change in psychoanalysis, and of those who aspire to participate in, or contribute to, that change."

- Joseph Palombo, M.A., Dean, Institute for Clinical Social Work

"Goldberg's script is remarkable for its good humor, delicious malice, and unblinking inventory of the lady's warts and wrinkles . . . .The Prisonhouse of Psychoanalysis is a carnival of ideas and an affecting prophesy to the lot of us, regardless of therapeutic or theoretical persuasion."

- Lucy Zabarenko, Ph.D., Psychoanalytic Books

Table of Contents

Section I 1. Introduction 2. The Prisonhouse of Psychoanalysis 3. Psychoanalysis Without Heroes 4. Addiction to Therapy and Addiction to Theory Section II 5. Psychoanalysis Without Foundations 6. Psychoanalysis Without Representations 7. Psychoanalysis Without a Subject Section III 8. Authentic Analysis 9. The Continuity of the Self and the Continuity of Psychoanalysis

About the Author

Arnold Goldberg, M.D., is Director of The Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis and Professor of Psychiatry at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago. He is the author of A Fresh Look at Psychoanalysis (1988) and is the editor of the Progress in Self Psychology series, both published by the Analytic Press.

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