Vamık D. Volkan, M.D., DLFAPA, FACPsa.

Volume XLV Page 3 2011 Spring Newsletter
Psychoanalytic Technique Expanded:A Textbook on Psychoanalytic Treatment
Vamık D. Volkan, M.D.
OA Publishing, Istanbul Turkey
October 2010
Phil S. Lebovitz, M.D.
Vamık Volkan, a past president of the College, has contributed Psychoanalytic Technique Expanded: A Textbook on Psychoanalytic Treatment; the book was published by Oa Publishing in October, 2010. In this text Dr. Volkan has presented a rich, multidimensional view, with both brief and lengthy sequences of material from his own clinical work and his supervisory and consultative endeavors. The extensive, forthright clinical material differentiates his book from other texts that have become classic resources.
Dr. Volkan’s book is organized into four parts: Psychoanalytic Treatment of the Neurotic Personality Organization, Individuals with Actualized Unconscious Fantasies and Transgenerational Fantasies, Individuals with Narcissistic Personality Organization and Who Else Can We Treat on the Analytic Couch. Each part contains several chapters which are tightly woven and sharply focused to inform the reader about the themes which Dr. Volkan wants to emphasize. Within each of the chapters the author expands on each technical term which he uses and often introduces twists on standard terms and creative and educational forms. The book’s foundation is characterized as “The Field-Work Method” and is defined as observing “an event in a clinical setting” and then (learning) theories that (attempt) to explain it; the analogy used is that of putting the supervisor or the therapist behind a metaphorical one way mirror. The reader is advised to read the book slowly and this reviewer could absorb the contents of the book best by reading it slowly; this book must be read in several extended sittings.
The first chapters have a sharply focused purpose of informing the reader about basic principles involved in establishing a psychoanalytic process. When Dr. Volkan introduces the familiar term interpretation, he deftly segues to his perspective on the variety of interpretations and their role in fostering an alliance. Linking interpretations and preparatory interpretations have very specific positions and purposes for him; linking interpretations demonstrate the intertwining of external and intrapsychic events and facilitate the patient’s acquisition of a psychological mind set. The author continues this process in a chapter on resistances and in a succeeding chapter he delves into sophisticated considerations of the nuances of the concept. The process of making interpretations receives the same careful consideration and concludes with an intriguing reframing of acting in, acting out or enactment as a version of therapeutic play, a term he has adapted from writings by Giovacchini.
The remaining two thirds of the book are dominated by detailed clinical material intended to convey how the author thinks analytically and how he applies his theoretical grasp. This task proceeds in a well-articulated, carefully grounded in experience-near, closeprocess manner. Dr. Volkan engages the reader with his disarming openness about his own affective involvement with his patients; the author humanizes himself as he reveals details of his own personal history and its pertinence to his patients’ process. On some occasions the poignancy of an event-the death at the hands of Greek Cypriot terrorists of Dr. Volkan’s friend and medical school roommate, described in vividly moving terms -persuades the reader of the validity of a concept. The point in this instance is the impact of one generation’s psychological burdens on another’s and the insinuation of that burden into the analytic process by the analyst or the patient as a consequence of whose burden is revived by the clinical data. A closely related issue emerges regarding the relevance of external events to intrapsychic and analytic occurrences. Dr. Volkan’s perspective establishes him as a contemporary object relations analyst.

My single observation, which restrains me from an unequivocal endorsement of this valuable, new resource, is the unmistakable implication that Dr. Volkan has a preference for an ego psychological, object relations approach to the analytic process and education. Inclusion in a textbook of multiple points of view would enhance its usefulness as an educational asset. Having a perspective that tilts toward a particular position is unavoidable but making an effort to incorporate multiple points of view strengthens a book aimed at being a teaching text. Dr. Volkan has done a creditable job of this as far as ego psychology, object relations, and a Kleinian perspective are included but a wider use of ego psychology would be helpful. Nonetheless, the clinical richness, detail, disarming self-disclosures, lucid description of terminology and definitions come together to render this a substantial addition to education. This textbook can be effectively incorporated into psychiatry and psychology training programs as well as into advanced psychotherapy training programs and beginning technique courses for psychoanalytic candidates. This book should be included in the syllabi of all of those programs and this reviewer believes the psychoanalytic community should be made widely aware of this publication.



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Last modified on: Apr 20, 2016