Can you be a relational analyst who is unobtrusive at the same time? In his new book, The Unobtrusive Relational Analyst: Explorations in Psychoanalytic Companioning (Routledge, 2018), Robert Grossmark makes a claim that you can and you should! Grossmark identifies a vulnerability of the relational style, that of placing too much emphasis on reflective interactions between patient and therapist, where each party is working to put experience into words. This can also be a problem for classically trained analysts, who privilege interpretation and insight. Grossmark makes a case that the analyst can be fully engaged and even interactive with her patients, without necessarily operating in the register of language and linguistic symbolization.
Grossmark draws from the Object Relations tradition, especially Balint, Bion, and Winnicott, and integrates it with theories from the Relational world of contemporary psychoanalysis. He values the regressive processes which psychoanalysis can induce in patients, returning them to “areas of the self that are unlikely to be reached by dialogic engagement.” And he also values contemporary ideas about how these areas of the self can sometimes only be known through the “flow of enactive engagement” rather than through verbally driven representational modes of communication. Multiple extended clinical vignettes help the reader “live through” the points that Grossmark is making by showing how they work in practice. This illustrates his idea that the most powerful way to reach patients can be by “companioning” them as they show us, rather than tell us, about their internal worlds.
Philip Lance, PhD, Radio Public, New Books in Psychoanalysis. https://radiopublic.com/new-books-in-psychoanalysis-8QERr8/ep/s1!a0db9
Also available: Tracy D. Morgan’s 2013 interview with Robert Grossmark about his book Heterosexual Masculinities: Contemporary Perspectives from Psychoanalytic Gender Theory, a 50-minute podcast from the “New Books in Psychoanalysis” series.
ROBERT GROSSMARK, PH.D is a psychoanalyst in private practice in New York City. He works with individuals groups and couples and conducts psychoanalytic reading and supervision groups. He teaches and supervises at the New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychoanalysis, The National Institute for the Psychotherapies Program in Adult Psychoanalysis, National Training Program in Psychoanalysis, The Eastern Group Psychotherapy Society and other psychoanalytic institutes and clinical psychology doctoral programs.
He has authored numerous papers on psychoanalytic process and the recently published book The Unobtrusive Relational Analyst: Explorations in Psychoanalytic Companioning. He co-edited the books, The One & The Many: Relational Approaches to Group Psychotherapy and Heterosexual Masculinities: Contemporary Perspectives from Psychoanalytic Gender Theory, all published by Routledge.
Grossmark, R. (2018). The unobtrusive relational analyst: Explorations in psychoanalytic companioning. New York: Routledge.
Grossmark, R. & Wright, F. (Eds.). (2014). The one and the many: Relational approaches to group psychotherapy. New York: Routledge
Reis, B. & Grossmark, R. (Eds.). (2009). Heterosexual masculinities: Contemporary perspectives from psychoanalytic gender theory. New York: Routledge.
Grossmark, R. (2012). The flow of enactive engagement. Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 48(3), 287-300.
Grossmark, R. (2009). The case of Pamela. Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 19(1), 22-30.
Grossmark, R. (2009). Final thoughts on the case of Pamela and commentaries. Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 19(1), 45-48.
Grossmark, R. (2007). The edge of chaos: Enactment, disruption and emergence in group psychotherapy. Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 17(4), 479-500.
Grossmark, R. (2006). From familiar chaos to coherence: Unformulated experience and enactment in group psychotherapy. In A. Harris & M. Suchet (Eds.), Relational Psychoanalysis: The emergence of a tradition, Vol III (pp. 193-208). Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press.