Learning Along the Way: Further Reflections on Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy by Patrick Casement, Routledge, Abingdon and New York, 2019, 156pp.

Review by Cuneyt Iscan, MD

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Facing one’s mortality in imminence can sometimes stir passions, lead to creativity and a desire to pass along what one knows to new generations. This book stands as an example of that kind of outcome.

Stimulated by my unexpected reprieve from a near-fatal cancer (see ‘My time with cancer’, Chapter 18), I began to put together my thoughts about psychoanalytic practice in brief synopsis, ‘Ways of working’ (Chapter 4). That recall of my clinical thinking re-kindled my enduring passion for this thing called psychoanalysis, especially after having ended my clinical practice with patients when I turned seventy. So, it did not take much prompting from a supervisee for me to realize that it might be worthwhile, if I were to collate those of my writings that had been scattered between various journals and my own archive. (p. 1)

This is how Patrick Casement explains how his last book, Learning Along the Way, came to fruition. The book is dedicated to his supervisees which is also telling, in a sense that the book seems to carry a certain mission and focus.

Patrick Casement is not a new voice for the analytic reader. He is a retired fellow of British Psychoanalytic Society. His previous publications span his entire career. His first book On Learning from the Patient was published in 1985 followed by Further Learning from the Patient in 1990, Learning from our Mistakes: Beyond Dogma in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy in 2002 and Learning from Life: Becoming a Psychoanalyst in 2006. His last book, Learning Along the Way, which was published in 2019, is mainly a compilation of previously published essays and papers by the author. Three interviews are included in separate chapters at the end of the book and last chapter is about author’s struggle with cancer.

As is the case with his other works, this book is infused with the author’s lifetime experience in the field of analysis and with clinical work. The book stands as a testimony to what the field can offer in the hands of a master. It is well-written and a delight to read. Issues around technique, training and supervision are dispersed throughout the chapters. There are concrete recommendations on technique with case illustrations which makes the book very accessible to trainees. At the same time, it has the depth and the wisdom that stimulates thinking around most complicated issues in the field for the seasoned clinician.<…>

American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 80(2):235-239, July 2020.

Link to Online Publication [fulltext can be requested from the library].

About the Author

Cuneyt Iscan, MD, is a Psychoanalyst Member of BPSI and an Assistant Professor at the Department of Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, MA.

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