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A Map of the Mind: Toward a Science of Psychotherapy
Reviewed by PAUL ROAZEN, PH.D.
Am J Psychiatry 2000;157:1032-1032. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.157.6.1032
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Cambridge, Mass.

By Richard Brockman. Madison, Conn., International Universities Press, 1998, 375 pp., $37.95.

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It is heartening to see just how much change has quietly been taking place within clinical psychoanalysis. Richard Brockman’s A Map of the Mind is full of lively stories about patients whom he has either treated himself or supervised, without any excessive theorizing or genuflecting toward old doctrinal orthodoxies. Nor is it necessary for him to scapegoat rival ideologies. Each of the cases he describes was seen in face-to-face encounters, and he recounts his own efforts to arrive at some cautious generalizations from the clinical situations.

For Brockman, an important constituent to every case has to be the therapist’s own countertransference feelings. Brockman does not trot out the concept of countertransference as a last resort or as the result of a clinical stalemate; rather, he assumes that psychotherapy is a genuinely human transaction between people capable of mixed, confusing, and only partly rational affects. Although he does not himself provide any examples of outstanding clinical failures, reading A Map of the Mind reminded me of just how brave Freud was in telling the world about his own frustrating therapeutic experience with the woman he named "Dora." Brockman does not proceed on the assumption that the therapist is in any way omniscient.

Brockman takes for granted the significance of the alleviation of distressing symptoms, and he also quietly endorses the utility of pharmacological medication. It is, I think, a tribute to the tradition in which Brockman works that he does not engage in an empty search for precise-sounding diagnostic classifications. His main achievement, and it is a considerable one, is to demonstrate the influence and role of emotions connected to transference feelings on the conduct of the therapy.

A Map of the Mind communicates, in its concrete illustrations, the rare kind of intimacy that takes place in the course of psychotherapy. Ideally, the time should come when psychotherapists like Brockman will discuss at length under what circumstances they recommend which sorts of drugs, just as, ideally, biological psychiatrists will be able to spend more time describing their human interactions with the patients they treat. In the meantime, and without awaiting the arrival of a utopia in which students of the mind and experts on the body will be able readily to converse with one another, A Map of the Mind represents to me an admirable bringing together of humanistic and strictly scientific perspectives.




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