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A New Vision of Psychoanalytic Theory, Practice and Supervision: Talking Bodies
Doris Brothers and Jon Sletvold
Routledge / Softcover / May 2023
9781032207490 (ISBN-10: 1032207493)
Psychoanalysis / Forthcoming
price: $56.50 (may be subject to change)
144 pages
Not Yet Published

By viewing psychoanalysis through the lens of embodiment, Brothers and Sletvold suggest a shift away from traditional concept-based theory and offer new ways to understand traumatic experiences, to describe the therapeutic exchange and to enhance the supervisory process.

Since traditional psychoanalytic language does not readily lend itself to embodied experience, the authors place particular emphasis on the words I, you we and world, to describe the flow of human attention. Offering new insights into trauma, this book demonstrates how traumatic experiences and efforts to regain certainty in one’s psychological life involve profound disruptions of this flow. With new understanding of transference, resistance and interpretation, the authors ultimately show how much is gained from viewing the analytic exchange as a meeting between foreign bodies.

Grounded in detailed case material, this book will change the way therapists from all disciplines understand the therapeutic process and how viewing it in terms of talking bodies enhances their efforts to heal.

Table of Contents:

Bodies in Time: An Introduction 1. Embodied Language and the Silence Between the Words 2. Foreign Bodies: From Interpretation to Translation 3. Traumatized Bodies 4. Embodying Dissociation 5. Memory, Narrative and the Embodiment of Transference 6. Resistance or the Lack of Freedom to Change 7. The Us-Them Binary of Fascist Experience 8. Body-Based Supervision 9. Why not the Body? Coda Appendix A: The Patient's Perception of the Analyst Appendix B: Some Past and Present Views on Embodiment


‘The message of this fascinating and important book is that each of us is an embodied presence. We are used to the idea, of course, that all of our experience and conduct--our thoughts and feelings, our communications to, and with, others, and so on--are sourced in our personhood. That point is familiar to us. But we are definitely not used to the idea that our personhood, in turn, is a manifestation of body life. Merleau-Ponty had this crucial perspective; and now psychoanalysis will, too.’

Donnel Stern, William Alanson White Institute and NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis

‘This highly accessible and engaging work is crucial for anyone interested in understanding the centrality of the body in psychoanalysis today. Drawing on a depth of clinical experience, Brothers and Sletvold introduce a new language for embodied therapeutic practice. In place of traditional concept-based theorizing, they develop a body-based approach that bridges the clinical, social and philosophical realms of experience. Brothers and Sletvold demonstrate just how fundamental our bodily being is to all that we do and experience in life. A timely and very welcome book that is an enrichment to our field.’

Roger Frie, Simon Fraser University and the William Alanson White Institute of Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis and Psychology

‘Advocating for an embodied psychoanalysis, Brothers and Sletvold encourage clinicians and supervisors to expand the boundaries of the "talking cure" by attending to their own bodily experiences as well as those of their patients and supervisees. In original and clear language, they illustrate the transformative potential in clinical work of being grounded in the body. Whether in the consulting room or in political discourse, ethical practice requires that bodily vulnerability be acknowledged, owned, and processed, rather than dissociated or projected. Attending to our embodied experience and acknowledging our own vulnerability may help us become more attuned to our shared humanity.’

Karen Starr is faculty at the NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis, co-editor of Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy Integration (2015), co-author of A Psychotherapy for the People (2013), and author of Repair of the Soul (2008)

‘For centuries, psychoanalysis has been described as "the talking cure" between one mind and another. In this book, Doris Brothers and Jon Sletvold bring "talking bodies" into the psychoanalytic conversation and treatment process. Framing their book within a contemporary "turn toward embodiment," a turn that to my mind has been all too slow in coming, the authors bring bodily experience and expression—in both defense and communication—back into the domain of psychoanalysis. Theirs is no easy task, but they break new ground in articulating a model of psychoanalysis deeply grounded in the somatic experiences of patients and analysts alike. Such central psychoanalytic concepts as trauma, transference, countertransference, memory and resistance are reconsidered through somatic lenses. Brothers and Sletvold present therapeutic and supervisory models of sustained attention to bodily processes that seek to reestablished a more vital flow of contact and communication between I, you, we, and world.’

William F. Cornell, author of Somatic Experience in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy

About the Authors:

Doris Brothers is a co-founder of the Training and Research in Intersubjective Self Psychology Foundation. She serves on the council of the International Association for Psychoanalytic Self Psychology. She has previously published three books, including Toward a Psychology of Uncertainty: Trauma-Centered Psychoanalysis. She practices in New York and Oslo.

Jon Sletvold is the founding board director of the Norwegian Character Analytic Institute. He has published books and articles on the role of the body in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy. He is the author of The Embodied Analyst: From Freud and Reich to Relationality, 2014, winner of the Gradiva Award, 2015.

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