Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association Book Review: The Technique and Practice of Psychoanalysis: Volume 4. The Ralph R. Greenson Training Seminars. Edited by Harry Polkinhorn . San Diego: San Diego State University Press, 2013, 184 pp., $18.95 paperback.
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This collection of Ralph Greenson’s training seminars, based on verbatim transcripts of audiotaped sessions from 1959 and 1975, brings a current generation of readers into the classroom with one of the most distinctive voices in midcentury psychoanalysis. The Technique and Practice of Psychoanalysis: Volume 1 (1967), Greenson’s influential and popular book, has been followed by a series of posthumous publications from the Ralph R. Greenson Archive of the San Diego Psychoanalytic Society and Institute. The Technique and Practice of Psychoanalysis: Volume 3 (Greenson 1994) is the first book in a planned eight-volume series based on Greenson’s training seminars and lecture notes. Each book in the series is organized according to a topic outline developed by Greenson himself. This volume focuses on the analytic treatment situation, analyzability, suitability for psychoanalysis, and resistance. In the editor’s introduction, Harry Polkinhorn includes a brief biography of Greenson, a history of the publications resulting from the materials left after Greenson’s death, a summary of plans for future publications, and a discussion of the editing challenges regarding this material. The transcribed audiotapes constitute the entirety of this book except for brief references at the end of each chapter.
Greenson is a masterful teacher with a strong command of the psychoanalytic literature, but he is most interested in the practical application and clinical usefulness of the ideas he discusses. He teaches with vigor, humor, and candor. The best part of this book is getting to know Greenson. Reading it feels like entering a psychoanalytic time capsule, invisibly sitting in a classroom of a different era. Greenson allows the reader to know him, to see how his mind works, to understand how deeply he feels for his patients and students, and to witness firsthand his warmth and respect in talking with them. He comes across as unafraid …