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Timeless Grandiosity and Eroticized Contempt: Technical Challenges Posed by Cases of Narcissism and Perversion
Michael Shoshani
Karnac (London: Phoenix Publishing House) / Softcover / Apr 2021
9781912691616 (ISBN-10: 1912691612)
reg price: $64.95 our price: $ 61.70
348 pages
In Stock (Ships within one business day)

An insightful book based on decades of experience by two eminent psychoanalysts which looks at those most difficult of patients; the ones whose therapy seems to stall and the therapist struggles to see a way forward; patients who struggle with manifestations of narcissism, envy, and perversion. Using a blend of theory, case studies, literature, philosophy, and film, Michael and Batya Shoshani have created a masterpiece of psychoanalytic literature.

The challenges and crises that kept resurfacing in Michael and Batya Shoshani’s work with extremely difficult patients hunted by anxieties of being, and in particular with perverse psychic organization, motivated them to write this book. It is an attempt to propose a clinical conceptualisation to enhance their understanding of these lost and confused patients, whose narcissistic struggle against human fate defies reality and truth, challenging the analyst and the analytic situation. Analysts, caught between their own perception of reality and truth and the wish to be empathetic to their patients’ experiences and views of reality, often feel torn and as if standing on quicksand.

Here, the authors are joining a contemporary movement in the psychoanalytic tradition whilst turning to other disciplines in order to better understand and explain the suffering of their patients. The use of literature, in particular the fictional works of Jorge Luis Borges; film, with an in-depth look at Roman Polanski’s Bitter Moon (1992) and Denis Villeneuve’s Incendies (2010); and philosophy, the ideas of Heidegger and how they link to those of Freud, coupled together with a solid grasp of psychoanalytic theory, such as reflections on Neville Symington’s seminal theory of narcissism, interspersed with real-life case studies bring the chapters alive. Such interplay between the detailed clinical material and conceptual formulations to an interdisciplinary dialogue enables a different outlook that will enrich the ongoing professional discourse on these perplexing and illusive psychic phenomena.

Read, digest, and enjoy.

Table of Contents:

Foreword by Salman Akhtar
Acknowledgments and permissions
About the authors

Narcissistic-perverse constellations – clinical material and conceptualizations

Psychic survival versus psychic freedom: reflections on Symington’s theory of narcissism

On mother–son twisted coalition: a precursor of perverse psychic organization

Green eyes, crows and scorpions: envy in the contexts of neediness, separateness, and narcissism

Do I dare to be human? The perverse failure to mourn, to think, and to love

Fear and shame in an Israeli psychoanalyst and his patient: lessons learned in times of war

The impact of perverse character pathology on the transference–countertransference matrix of patient, therapist, and supervisor

Interdisciplinary dialogues

Bitter Moon: The interplay of life and death instincts

When one plus one equals one: truth and blindness in the oedipal myth and the film Incendies

Borges in my office: the analysis of a man dwelling outside of time

Heidegger and Freud – explorations into truth, anxiety, and death


About the Authors:

Michael Shoshani, Psy.D., MBA, a Fullbright scholar, is a senior clinical psychologist and a training and supervising psychoanalyst. He is the founding chair and a faculty member of The Tel Aviv Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis. He is a faculty member and supervisor at the New York University Postdoc Program for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, and an active member of the American Psychoanalytic Association (APsaA) and the International Psychoanalytical Association (IPA). For three decades, he has treated patients, taught students, and supervised clinicians. He has lectured for many years at Tel Aviv University and Bar Illan University, in the postgraduate programs of psychoanalytic psychotherapy, and has run workshops for many groups of professionals in Israel, the USA, Turkey, and Romania. His main interest is the clinical theories relating to the therapy and analysis of narcissistic and perverse character pathology, as well as in interdisciplinary studies in psychoanalysis, weaving clinical knowledge with philosophy, literature, and art. He is the author of the book Dare to be Human? A Psychoanalytic Journey, and has published numerous articles on these subjects.

Batya Shoshani, PhD, a Fullbright scholar, is a training and supervising psychoanalyst and a professor of clinical social work at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (retired), with vast experience in teaching and supervision in social work, psychotherapy, and psychoanalysis. She is a founding member and the chair of the training committee at The Tel Aviv Institute for Contemporary Psychoanalysis. She has been a senior consultant for public services dealing with children, adolescents, battered women, and delinquent youth. She is interested in interdisciplinary studies in psychoanalysis, weaving clinical knowledge with philosophy, literature, and art. In addition, Batya has shown great interest in the particular theory and technique of perversions alongside Michael Shoshani, Psy.D., and has written numerous articles regarding these subjects.

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