Book Discussion: February -April 2015

Creating a psychoanalytic mind: a psychoanalytic method and theory
by Fred Busch

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Posted February 24, 2015 by Ms. Rhoda Bawdekar

Dear Colleagues,
The Members’ Book Section of the IPA Website is pleased to announce the first book discussion that will take place on the IPA Website, and will continue until mid April. The book that will be discussed is the recently published Creating a psychoanalytic mind: a psychoanalytic method and theory by Fred Busch. This book was chosen as it has catalyzed considerable thought and discourse and has received international acclaim.

As noted by IPA President Stefano Bolognini, ‘In my view Fred Busch is an authentically international psychoanalyst not only because of his wide and brilliant culture, but more specifically because of his capacity for dialogue and his special skill in understanding the other’s mentality and position: an attitude that creates new spaces, new encounters, new shared visions both in the clinical work and in the scientific interchange.’

The discussion will begin with reviews [see attachments below] of the book by three well known and highly esteemed colleagues from each of the three IPA regions: Marilia Aisenstein (Europe), Elias M. da Rocha Barros (Latin America), and Otto Kernberg (North America). These reviews will serve as a springboard for discussion amongst the reviewers, the author, Ellen Sparer (Europe) as well as the wider IPA membership. The discussion will be moderated by Eric Marcus (North America). The goal of this book discussion is to promote exchange amongst colleagues across the globe on the content of the book which has to do with basic theoretical and clinical issues of critical importance to us all.

All IPA members and candidates are encouraged to participate in this exchange.

Sincerely yours, Anna Christopoulos

2 Replies
Reading Fred Busch
Posted March 28, 2015 by Mme Ellen A. Sparer
Reading Fred Busch is a pleasure. So it should come as no surprise that reading the commentaries of each of the three illustrious analysts invited to review Fred Busch’s book, is not only a pleasure, but also a testimony to the analytic quality of his book, “Creating a Psychoanalytic Mind”. M Aisenstein, O Kernberg, and E M. da Rocha Barros each begin with the same “content” that is the clinical and theoretical material proposed by F Busch, and out of it, each creates a thoughtful and thought provoking commentary. Each one is very different, each commentator reads Busch differently, according to her or his analytic history and vision, but each one takes it in, uses it, and transforms their reading of it into something quite different than what Fred Busch had in mind when he wrote his book; each commentary is quite different of course from the other, although there are also points of overlap among the reviewers. Or perhaps this is exactly what Fred Busch hoped for in writing about his personal voyage as an analyst: that his readers, like his patients and supervisees, would take his words and create something new and personally meaningful. I don’t see how the IPA could have chosen a more suitable book for launching its web book debate. Fred Busch is an analyst who is curious, and well read, and has been thinking about what is going on in the analytic dyad for years. With “Creating a Psychoanalytic Mind”, he invites you to use his thinking as a basis for developing your own thoughts.
Creating a psychoanalytic Mind
Posted April 22, 2015 by Dr. Stephen Leibow
It is an interesting question why there has not been more discussion. The idea that it makes too much sense is close to my view that it somehow falls outside the current debates and anxieties which many authors and the general readership are preoccupied with. As the book seems so clear and disarmingly uncomplicated it may lack the current emphasis on difficult, less experience near ideas, the very subject of this book. It's virtues lie in the application of these ideas to the clinical task and so it lacks the theoretical dazzle This is what I wrote in my review for the previous Canadian Journal of Psychoanalysis, " this book might give the impression at first of being a primer of psychoanalytic technique...There is certainly a danger of one sidedness if staying close to the patient's preconscious, and debates over the role of empathy have expressed similar concerns becomes an end in itselfand the deeper connections are not made. What is understood as material that requires deep interpretation can suddenly become very conscious if the proper connections are made....I think Busch would agree that understanding unconscious forces in all their layered variability is at the heart of our work, that our knowledge of unconscious content can only add to our appreciation of form and would want those employing his methodology to feel that the field of interest has been enlarged...His treatment of his subject is thorough and he presents his arguments by increments and with care and this thoughtful, one might say mindful, approach to the reader has an apt resonance with the story he is telling."
Posted February 24, 2015 by Ms. Rhoda Bawdekar

I will only give a brief response to the discussions of my book by my three colleagues, as I’m sure we will come back to many of their ideas. However, I did want to say how very appreciative I am that they were willing to take the time to engage with my book. Each reviewer has contributed brilliantly to our psychoanalytic knowledge, and also given enormous efforts to the International Psychoanalytic Association and their own Societies.  

An author can only hope that a reviewer of one’s work can deeply engage with it, and this has been fulfilled to the maximum in these reviews. That colleagues from three different traditions also find this book a valuable contribution is especially gratifying, as one of the themes in the book is a growing common ground on matters of technique amongst diverse perspectives. Further, that each reviewer was able to find ideas in this book that added to their own perspective, or shed new light on a particular issue was very rewarding.

My basic grounding in ego psychology and the Structural model will always be a basic part of my thinking. However, my journey in the last fifteen years into the thinking of other psychoanalytic cultures [1] has deepened my understanding of psychoanalysis, and has led me to elaborate and re-think many ideas regarding the psychoanalytic method.

In the compelling conceptualizations from French psychoanalysis, especially the work of Andre Green and the French Psychosomatic School, I was able to see parallels in how we see free association, working in displacement, and certain types of non-representational thinking in patients across the diagnostic spectrum. It was Aisenstein’s (Aisenstein and Smadja, 2010) brief introduction to the work of Pierre Marty, and “the significant step Marty took in understanding psychosomatic patients: it was not a question of looking for the content to give sense to the somatic symptoms but rather of observing the inhibition or failures of psychic elaboration that proceed or accompany them’”(p.343 italics added) that helped me think more about my own conceptualizations about the need to work more concretely with patients, as Marty recommended with psychosomatic patients. 

Few psychoanalysts have immersed themselves in different psychoanalytic cultures as much as Dr. Elias M. da Rocha Barros. His reconceptualization of my ideas into his own language was constantly edifying. When reading his commentary I wished I could have included it in my book. He has a way of phrasing his ideas that adds emotional depth to the movement from a thinker without thoughts to symbolic thinking. For example, “Put another way, knowledge through an emotional experience of how the patient is being is far more important to generate transformation than being informed about who he is”. I also found it surprising and gratifying to see the connections he made between my work and other Latin America authors. I hope he will elaborate on his idea that “that during the session, as in life, the patient is always in a state of “becoming” and never in a fixed state of being”. It has been my understanding that patients come to analysis because they are in a permanent state of regressive solutions, and while they come to change we are constantly working with the fear of change.

For the last sixty years Otto Kernberg has been one of the most important thinkers in psychoanalysis. His wide-ranging contributions include: his ground-breaking work of the treatment of severe character disorders; an innovative capacity to reflect on psychoanalytic education and psychoanalytic organizations; his own attempts to reflect and integrate the views of different psychoanalytic cultures, just to name a few. As with the other reviewers Dr. Kernberg’s immersion in my book is gratifying, along with my feeling he understands what I’m getting at when he says, “ Busch has, in fact, carried out the same role within ego psychology that Betty Joseph and André Green have carried out within the Kleinian and the French psychoanalytic approaches: they are radical, innovative, and effective developments of psychoanalytic technique”. While Kernberg agrees with my approach of interpreting “in the neighborhood”, he believes that a more general principle would be to interpret what is affectively dominant in a session. I agree, and in fact can’t imagine an intervention that would be in the patients “neighborhood” without it being affectively meaningful. I agree with Kernberg’s addition that “that an initial diagnostic assessment is very important in all cases, regarding indications as well as contraindications of psychoanalysis, and the need to diagnose those conditions that definitely, and sometimes urgently, require other treatment approaches”.

Unfortunately this response is longer than expected. However, before ending I wanted to thank Dr. Marcus. Everything I’ve said about the reviewers’ readiness to involve themselves in my work, and “get it” applies to his introduction

Again, I want to thank the all of you for helping us begin the conversation so brilliantly.



Aisenstein, M., Smadja, C. (2010). Conceptual Framework from the Paris Psychosomatic School. Int. J. Psycho-Anal.,        91:621-640.


[1] Under the guidance of my wife and colleague Dr. Cordelia Schmidt-Hellerau

2 Replies
Busch responds to Sparer
Posted April 1, 2015 by Dr. Fred Busch
I want to thank Ellen Sparer for her thoughtful comments about my book, and the reviews posted by Aisenstein, Rochas de Barros, and Kernberg. As an author she has paid me the highest praise in suggesting that "in my personal voyage as an analyst that his readers, like his patients and supervises, would take his words and create something new and personally meaningful". At first I was surprised by her comment that each reviewer reads Busch differently. Of course she is right. I think I saw the reviews in the way she described my book…i.e., each reviewer picked up on what was meaningful to them, and elaborated on it in a way that I learned something more, or raised important questions for me.
Cecilio Paniagua response
Posted April 9, 2015 by Ms. Rhoda Bawdekar
Dear colleagues, I read Van der Heide's review of Fred Busch's last book in Later I read with great interest Kernberg, Aisenstein and Rocha Barros' reviews published in this web. Then I waited for further debate from the general readership, but to my surprise, none came. I hesitated to jump in first since I am the book's prologue-writer, but I feel that enough time has elapsed for me to venture an intervention. I think that in Creating a Psychoanalytic Mind Busch spells the state-of-the-art technique in Contemporary Ego Psychology. Following in close-process the textual material, he promotes the type of self-observation and inquiry that may lead the patient to contemplate psychic activity (ideational and emotional) as 'mental events'. Busch persuasively defends the replacement of the inevitability of action for the possibility of reflection. His proposed technique bridges the 'developmental gap' between the old classical approach and modern techniques based on Freud's structural theory. Busch's writings have received great attention, and I know that his presentations have been acclaimed in the U.S. and abroad. And now let me share a question that nags me, perhaps naïvely. Does the lack of debate of his book reflect that he makes 'too much sense', as though there is nothing to add or discuss about his theses? Best regards, Cecilio Paniagua, Madrid