email page print pageAll Topic Reviews
Maximizing Effectiveness in Dynamic Psychotherapy Self-Compassion in Psychotherapy101 Healing StoriesA Clinician's Guide to Legal Issues in PsychotherapyA Map of the MindA Primer for Beginning PsychotherapyACT With LoveActive Treatment of DepressionAffect Regulation, Mentalization, and the Development of SelfAlready FreeBad TherapyBecoming an Effective PsychotherapistBecoming MyselfBefore ForgivingBeing a Brain-Wise TherapistBetrayed as BoysBeyond Evidence-Based PsychotherapyBeyond MadnessBeyond PostmodernismBinge No MoreBiofeedback for the BrainBipolar DisorderBody PsychotherapyBoundaries and Boundary Violations in PsychoanalysisBrain Change TherapyBrain Science and Psychological DisordersBrain-Based Therapy with AdultsBrain-Based Therapy with Children and AdolescentsBrief Adolescent Therapy Homework PlannerBrief Child Therapy Homework PlannerBrief Therapy Homework PlannerBuffy the Vampire Slayer and PhilosophyBuilding on BionCare of the PsycheCase Studies in DepressionCaught in the NetChild and Adolescent Treatment for Social Work PracticeChoosing an Online TherapistChronic DepressionClinical Dilemmas in PsychotherapyClinical Handbook of Psychological DisordersClinical Intuition in PsychotherapyClinical Pearls of WisdomCo-Creating ChangeCognitive Therapy for Challenging ProblemsCompassionConfessions of a Former ChildConfidential RelationshipsConfidentiality and Mental HealthConfidingContemplative Psychotherapy EssentialsControlConversations About Psychology and Sexual OrientationCoping with BPDCouch FictionCounseling in GenderlandCounseling with Choice TheoryCouple SkillsCrazy for YouCreating a Life of Meaning and CompassionCreating HysteriaCritical Issues in PsychotherapyCrucial Choices, Crucial ChangesDeafness In MindDecoding the Ethics CodeDeconstructing PsychotherapyDeep Brain StimulationDemystifying TherapyDepression 101Depression in ContextDialogues on DifferenceDissociative ChildrenDo-It-Yourself Eye Movement Techniques for Emotional HealingDoing CBTE-TherapyEarly WarningEncountering the Sacred in PsychotherapyEnergy Psychology InteractiveErrant SelvesEssays on Philosophical CounselingEssentials of Wais-III AssessmentEthically Challenged ProfessionsEthics and Values in PsychotherapyEthics in Plain EnglishEthics in Psychotherapy and CounselingExercise-Based Interventions for Mental IllnessExistential PsychotherapyExpectationExploring the Self through PhotographyExpressing EmotionFacing Human SufferingFairbairn's Object Relations Theory in the Clinical SettingFamily TherapyFavorite Counseling and Therapy Homework AssignmentsFear of IntimacyFlourishingFolie a DeuxForms of Intersubjectivity in Infant Reasearch and Adult TreatmentFoundations of Ethical Practice, Research, and Teaching in PsychologyFreud and the Question of PseudoscienceFrom Morality to Mental HealthFundamentals of Psychoanalytic TechniqueGenes on the CouchGod & TherapyHalf Empty, Half FullHandbook of Clinical Psychopharmacology for TherapistsHandbook of Counseling and Psychotherapy with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual ClientsHandbook of Evidence-Based Therapies for Children and AdolescentsHealing the Heart and Mind with MindfulnessHeinz KohutHelping Children Cope With Disasters and TerrorismHigh RiskHistory of PsychotherapyHow and Why Are Some Therapists Better Than Others?How Clients Make Therapy WorkHow People ChangeHow Psychotherapists DevelopHow to Fail As a TherapistHow to Go to TherapyHypnosis for Inner Conflict ResolutionHypnosis for Smoking CessationI Never Promised You a Rose GardenIf Only I Had KnownIn Others' EyesIn SessionIn Therapy We TrustIn Treatment: Season 1Incorporating Spirituality in Counseling and PsychotherapyInside the SessionInside TherapyIs Long-Term Therapy Unethical?Issues in Philosophical CounselingIt's Not as Bad as It SeemsItís Your HourLearning ACTLearning from Our MistakesLearning Supportive PsychotherapyLetters to a Young TherapistLife CoachingLogotherapy and Existential AnalysisLove's ExecutionerMadness and DemocracyMaking the Big LeapMan's Search for MeaningMaybe You Should Talk to SomeoneMetaphoria: Metaphor and Guided Metaphor for Psychotherapy and HealingMind GamesMindfulnessMindfulness and AcceptanceMindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for DepressionMindworks: An Introduction to NLPMockingbird YearsMoments of EngagementMomma and the Meaning of LifeMotivational Interviewing: Preparing People For ChangeMulticulturalism and the Therapeutic ProcessMultifamily Groups in the Treatment of Severe Psychiatric DisordersNarrative PracticeNietzsche and PsychotherapyOn the CouchOne Nation Under TherapyOur Inner WorldOur Last Great IllusionOutsider ArtOutsider Art and Art TherapyOvercoming Destructive Beliefs, Feelings, and BehaviorsOverexposedPathways to SpiritualityPersonality and PsychotherapyPhilosophical CounselingPhilosophical Counselling and the UnconsciousPhilosophical Issues in Counseling and PsychotherapyPhilosophical PracticePhilosophy and PsychotherapyPhilosophy for Counselling and PsychotherapyPhilosophy PracticePhilosophy's Role in Counseling and PsychotherapyPillar of SaltPlan BPlato, Not Prozac!Polarities of ExperiencesPower GamesPractical Psychoanalysis for Therapists and PatientsPrinciples and Practice of Sex TherapyProcess-Based CBTPromoting Healthy AttachmentsPsychologists Defying the CrowdPsychology, Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis, and the Politics of Human RelationshipsPsychosis in the FamilyPsychotherapyPsychotherapyPsychotherapy and ConfidentialityPsychotherapy As PraxisPsychotherapy East and WestPsychotherapy for Children and AdolescentsPsychotherapy for Personality DisordersPsychotherapy Is Worth ItPsychotherapy Isn't What You ThinkPsychotherapy with Adolescent Girls and Young WomenPsychotherapy with Children and AdolescentsPsychotherapy without the SelfPsychotherapy, American Culture, and Social PolicyRapid Cognitive TherapyRational Emotive Behavior TherapyRational Emotive Behavior TherapyRationality and the Pursuit of HappinessRebuilding Shattered LivesReclaiming Our ChildrenRecovery OptionsRelationalityRent Two Films and Let's Talk in the MorningSaving the Modern SoulScience and Pseudoscience in Clinical PsychologySecond-order Change in PsychotherapySelf-Compassion in PsychotherapySelf-Determination Theory in the ClinicSelf-Disclosure in Psychotherapy and RecoverySerious ShoppingSex, Therapy, and KidsSexual Orientation and Psychodynamic PsychotherapySigns of SafetySoul Murder RevisitedStaring at the SunStraight to JesusStrangers to OurselvesSubjective Experience and the Logic of the OtherTaking America Off DrugsTales of PsychotherapyTales of UnknowingTalk is Not EnoughTalking Cures and Placebo EffectsTelling SecretsThe Behavioral Medicine Treatment PlannerThe Body in PsychotherapyThe Brief Couples Therapy Homework Planner with DiskThe Case Formulation Approach to Cognitive-Behavior TherapyThe Challenge for Psychoanalysis and PsychotherapyThe Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe Clinical Child Documentation SourcebookThe Clinical Documentation SourcebookThe Complete Adult Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe Couch and the TreeThe Couples Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe Crucible of ExperienceThe Cure of SoulsThe Death of PsychotherapyThe Education of Mrs. BemisThe Ethical Treatment of DepressionThe Ethics of PsychoanalysisThe Gay and Lesbian Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe Gift of TherapyThe Great Psychotherapy Debate: The Evidence for What Makes Psychotherapy Work The Healing JourneyThe Heart & Soul of ChangeThe Heroic ClientThe Husbands and Wives ClubThe Incurable RomanticThe Love CureThe Making of a TherapistThe Mindful TherapistThe Mirror Crack'dThe Mummy at the Dining Room TableThe Neuroscience of PsychotherapyThe Neuroscience of Psychotherapy: Healing the Social BrainThe New Rational TherapyThe Older Adult Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe Other Side of DesireThe Pastoral Counseling Treatment PlannerThe Philosopher's Autobiography The Pornographer's GriefThe Portable CoachThe Portable Ethicist for Mental Health Professionals The Present Moment in Psychotherapy and Everyday LifeThe Problem of EvilThe Problem with Cognitive Behavioural TherapyThe Psychodynamics of Gender and Gender RoleThe Psychotherapy Documentation PrimerThe Psychotherapy Documentation PrimerThe Psychotherapy of HopeThe Real World Guide to Psychotherapy PracticeThe Schopenhauer CureThe Sex Lives of TeenagersThe Talking CureThe Therapeutic "Aha!"The Therapist's Guide to PsychopharmacologyThe Therapist's Guide to Psychopharmacology, Revised EditionThe Therapist's Ultimate Solution BookThe Trauma of Everyday LifeThe Trouble with IllnessThe UnsayableThe Way of the JournalTheory and Practice of Brief TherapyTherapy with ChildrenTherapy's DelusionsTheraScribe 3.0 for WindowsTheraScribe 4.0Thinking about ThinkingThinking for CliniciansThinking for CliniciansThoughts Without a ThinkerThriveToward a Psychology of AwakeningTracking Mental Health OutcomesTrauma, Truth and ReconciliationTreating Attachment DisordersTreatment for Chronic DepressionTreatment Plans and Interventions for Depression and Anxiety DisordersUnderstanding Child MolestersUnspeakable Truths and Happy EndingsWhat the Buddha FeltWhat Works for Whom?What Works for Whom? Second EditionWhen the Body SpeaksWhispers from the EastWise TherapyWittgenstein and PsychotherapyWorking MindsWoulda, Coulda, ShouldaWriting About PatientsYoga Skills for Therapists:Yoga Therapy
This is a bad book which I found highly irritating. To support this judgment fully would require a lengthy article if not an entire book, and the work merits neither such space nor effort. Accordingly, I will limit myself to a few remarks about what seem to me its most grievous faults.
It is a large book (548 pages), but its themes are few: psychotherapy is in a terrible state; dreams and feelings should be the therapist's main concern; and, a certain kind of group therapy is the answer to making effective quality treatment available to the large population that needs help but is presently being served either poorly or not at all. These themes are repeated relentlessly.
The book claims originality ("we present much useful clinical material not found elsewhere" ) and a foundation in research. Regarding the former, the old adage "what is good is not new, and what is new is not good" applies; and, de Schill offer no real support (and, indirectly, some evidence against the latter claim (e.g., the time-frame of his "research" on group therapy).
I cannot identify a readership for this book. On the one hand, as de Schill says, it is not intended as a scholarly work (31, 97). For example, most of it is a highly repetitious and motley rehash of old literature; citations of sources often are missing; key relevant critical literature is not mentioned; the book is sprinkled with strange anecdotes--e.g., about the Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolajewitch's selection of his guards (265--re selection of therapy candidates); and, to professionals the bulk of the criticism will be familiar and old. On the other hand, I cannot see well-educated nontherapist readers or other lay persons wanting to wade through such a bulky book that is tediously repetitious, haphazardly organized, self-aggrandizing, full of sarcasm, and rigidly dogmatic.
The sarcasm in the book is particularly odious. For example, de Schill calls Erik Erikson "a vociferous purist and self-proclaimed saint" (135), says of Irving Yalom that "we are glad to learn [that he] can do much better" (than Freud) (161), and condemns certain "acclaimed theorizers," saying (concerning the milling crowd of their admirers) that "it is true that 'the higher the monkey climbs, the more you see his rear" (401). He makes comparable inappropriate, unprofessional remarks about numerous other well known therapists, including Kohut, French, Karasu, Shengold, and Grotjahn; and, he notes generally that other therapist's views of dreams "betray utter ignorance," are "irresponsible," and deserve to be answered with "harshness" (98-99). de Schill has no doubts about the absolute truth of his knowledge and judgements.
Here is a partial list of further grievous faults. de Schill idly and stridently criticizes (and misquotes) Freud on the interpretation and use of dreams in therapy, offering his own dogma instead (e.g., 149, 193, 196, 215, 229-233; having criticized orthodoxy in psychoanalysis in numerous publications, I do not automatically take exception to well-conceived critiques of Freud, but in this instance I see no reason for giving preference to de Schill's poor arguments and alternative dogma based on his own experience); de Schill's few original proposals include a bizarre recommendation to "creat[e] a three-dimensional representation of the unconscious [dynamics]" which, he claims, is a necessity in psychotherapy (439-453); he acknowledges a key shortcoming of group therapy, namely, that one must give up using free association (which some of us see as indispensable in analytic therapy--e.g. Barratt, 1993, 1994; Thompson, 2000, 2001; Bollas, 1999; Berger, 1991, 1996), but dismisses the issue in two brief sentences (510-511).
I close by noting that the lack of credibility brought about by this book's many and significant technical and stylistic faults is augmented by certain puzzling inconsistencies and evasions concerning the book's lineage: (1) Its publication date is given as 2000, but a 1994 review is cited on page 10 of the book's companion volume (de Schill and Lebovici, 1999[?]). (2) That companion book is given as a 1997 publication in a publisher's mailing and in de Schill's list of references (520), but subsequently he (530) cites a 1994 review. (3) de Schill's book has two long "introductions," by Robert Stoller and John Gedo. The author says that these were written in response to his invitation to write introductions, but there are grounds for questioning this claim; Stoller died in 1992, and Gedo's "introduction" is an (unacknowledged) reprint of chapter 12 in Gedo, 1984. And finally, (4) Part II, "The quest for affordable and effective psychotherapy" (471-520), reprinted from de Schill and Lebovici, 1997, acknowledges that it was "written in cooperation with Denise LaHullier," but there is no information about the nature or extent of their respective contributions and collaboration; unfortunately, instances of such absences of information about substantial cited materials are scattered throughout. I can see no redeeming virtue in this strange work.
© 2001 Louis S. Berger
Barratt, B.B. 1993. Psychoanalysis and the Postmodern Impulse: Knowing and Being since Freud's Psychology. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
____________. 1994. Critical notes on the psychoanalyst's theorizing. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association 42:697-725.
Berger, L.S. 1991. Substance Abuse as Symptom: A Psychoanalytic Critique of Treatment Approaches and the Cultural Beliefs that Sustain them. Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press.
Berger L,S. 1996. Toward a non-Cartesian psychotherapeutic framework. Philosophy, Psychiatry, & Psychology 3: 169-184.
Bollas, C. 1999. The Mystery of Things. New York: Routledge.
de Schill, S., & Lebovici, S. (Eds.), 1997 [?]. The Challenge for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy: Solutions for the Future. London: Jessica Kingsley.
Thompson, M.G. 2000. 'Free association:' A technical principle or model for psychoanalytic education? Psychologist Psychoanalyst 20: 1-13.
Thompson, M.G. 2001. The enigma of honesty: The fundamental rule of psychoanalysis. Free Associations 47: 1-45.
Louis S. Berger's career has straddled clinical psychology, engineering and applied physics, and music. His major interest is in clinical psychoanalysis and related philosophical issues. Dr. Berger's publications include 3 books (Introductory Statistics, 1981; Psychoanalytic Theory and Clinical Relevance, 1985; Substance Abuse as Symptom, 1991) and several dozen journal articles and book reviews. A manuscript comparing praxial and technologically based psychotherapies is being completed.
We have received the following reply concering Louis Berger's
review. The reply is by Monroe W. Spero, M.D., Chairman of the
Professional Board at the American Mental Health Foundation.
The author of the book, Stefan de Schill, is director of research
for the AMHF.
I regret to say that this is a most inaccurate book review. To
anyone who has read the book, Berger's comments are off the mark.
It is evident that he spent much effort to create a case.
Berger makes numerous non-factual statements in his review.
One has to wonder about Berger's motives for attacking Crucial.
It is obvious that the work struck a raw nerve in Berger. Why?
To cite a few sentences from Professor Fabian Schupper's review
of this book:
"What a welcome breath of fresh air
.Dr. de Schill's
work stands as a much-needed expert correction to the mountain
of highly speculative and unanchored theory building in the field
of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy. On the basis of numerous
cogent examples, he demonstrates the need for an expert clinical
approach as the indispensable tool for understanding the unique
psychological makeup of the individual. This stands in marked
contrast to the facile practice of generalizing broad 'theory'
to every patient, regardless of his or her individuality in structure
and dynamics. I don't know of any analyst more capable of understanding
and formulating very complex concepts in a clear and cogent manner."
Berger's anger appears to be related to two circumstances.
1. He is the author of a number of writings on psychoanalytic
theory. See the description of his latest book Psychoanalytic
Theory and Relevance: What Makes a Theory Consequential for Practice?
by The Analytic Press: "Berger grapples with the nature of
'consequential' theorizing, i.e., theorizing that is relevant
to what transpires in clinical praxis. By examining psychoanalysis
as a genre of 'state process formalism' - the standard form of
scientific theory - he demonstrates why contemporary theorizing
inevitably fails to explain crucial aspects of practice. Then,
drawing on theories of affect, the nature of first-language acquisition,
and the philosophical aspects of free will and determinism, he
offers pragmatic recommendations for arriving at a theory more
relevant to practice."
2. de Schill, in Crucial, severely criticizes the ever-increasing
use of easy-to-learn and easy-to-practice but inadequate treatment
methods in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. He discusses in detail
a great number of writings by professionals promoting such approaches.
Berger, however, aligns himself with many of these authors, giving
their names, and defending them by censuring de Schill for his
criticism of them. All these therapists, even though well-known,
according to de Schill's analysis of their work evidence little
competence. In his book, de Schill extensively describes the talents
he states a psychotherapist must possess and what skills he or
she needs to acquire.
To answer Berger's inaccuracies would take many pages. Thus, we
will select significant examples.
Berger claims that the themes of the book are few, namely three.
Not at all: the book covers basic and essential issues of psychotherapy,
often using writings in psychotherapy as illustration. Furthermore,
considerable attention is given to improved methods for selecting
trainees and the need for creation of a new specialized professional
curriculum for psychotherapists. In the same paragraph. Berger
indicates that de Schill claims that a certain form of group therapy
is the "answer to the large population that needs help."
de Schill never makes such a claim. He merely indicates that the
American Mental Health Foundation over a number of decades can
help a considerable number of patients, including many who previously
would not have been considered for group treatment. The major
part of the book, however, is devoted to the discussion of topics
of relevance to individual therapy as well as to groups.
Berger states that an underlying theme is "what is good is
not new, and what is new is not good." One finds it difficult
to discover a basis for such an assertion.
Quoting Berger: "de Schill notes generally that other
therapists' views of dreams 'betray utter ignorance,' are 'irresponsible,'
and deserve to be answered with 'harshness.' (emphasis added).
This is another one of Berger's misrepresentations. He gives the
impression that de Schill's comments refer to all therapists using
dreams therapeutically. The fact, however, is that de Schill speaks
in the highest terms of a number of very important therapists
who work with dreams. The three quotes of de Schill cited above
by Berger are in no way general but specifically apply merely
to five neurobiologists who declare that dreams do not have any
meaning and thus no value in psychotherapeutic work. Since these
professionals hold important university positions, these assertions
have considerable influence on students.
Later, Berger speaks about "evasions" - but where are
they? Dr. de Schill is straightforward in his opinions and writings,
and to the point in his comments.
Then the reviewer questions de Schill's statement that the two
introductory chapters were obtained in response to Dr. de Schill's
invitations to these authors. Berger appears to imply that de
Schill has lifted the chapters from some other books. The truth,
however, is that both these authors have made special efforts
to tailor their chapters to this work. I herewith send copies
of their letters to the editor of Metapsychology.
And so it goes.
Berger's tirade is an indication of the reaction experienced by
many who feel criticized by de Schill's book. His comments are
in stark contrast to the many laudatory reviews by outstanding
authorities, some of which are reprinted on the dust jacket. On
the other hand, it is quite apparent that Berger fails to comprehend
the scope and the essence of de Schill's book.
And a last statement: a reviewer is entitled to express his or
her opinion but not to misrepresent the contents of a book.
January 8, 2002
Monroe W. Spero, M.D., Chairman, Professional Board, American
Mental Health Foundation
April 4, 2002
Louis Berger has declined the opportunity to respond to Monroe
Spero's letter, but he stands by his original review of Crucial
Choices, Crucial Changes. In support of his review he directs
readers to another review by Scott Wetzler, Ph.D., in the American
Journal of Psychiatry, 159(3):509-10.