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Book Review: “Somatic Experience in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy” by William F. Cornell (2015)

Book Review: “Somatic Experience in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy” by William F. Cornell (2015)2018-10-17T01:11:32+00:00

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This book review was written for the journal Body, Movement and Dance in Psychotherapy, and you can find the 1500-word version there. But I got so engrossed with the book and the issues it raises, I wrote a whole discussion, plus I also included lengthy key paragraphs from the book. This piece here is therefore significantly longer than a book review, about 13000 words.

This is a long, long book review, which will probably become a separate article, as it goes way beyond commenting on the book itself. It became that long because I felt so inspired by the book that I seriously engaged with its substance. It is a book at the cutting edge of somatic psychology, and at the forefront of re-integrating the psychoanalytic and body psychotherapy traditions. Anybody interested in these topics needs to read this book.
For those of you interested in this integration, the book prompted me to engage with it for a whole week's worth of writing, i.e. expanding the book review that was required into a serious and comprehensive response (and I didn't, as Bill pointed out, even include commentary for what are arguably two of the most important chapters at the end of the book). For the first time in many years (since my chapter on embodied countertransference, really, 12 years ago), this book review therefore includes some ideas and notions which I have been teaching for quite a few years now, but have not set down in writing.
It addresses these ideas on a fairly abstract level, not readily applicable to the nitty-gritty of our practice, but it does address the question in some depth what might be required to get beyond switching and oscillating between the paradigms of the two traditions and get closer towards some integration.

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