Since 1955, moving from early work in psychopharmacology to studies of clinical method and the psychiatric schools, Leston Havens has been working toward a general theory of therapy. It often seems that twentieth-century psychiatry, sect-ridden, is a Tower of Babel, as Havens once characterized it. This book is the distillation of long years of thought and practice, a bold yet modest attempt to delineate an “integrated psychotherapy.”
The boldness of this effort lies in its author’s willingness to recognize the best that each school has to offer, to describe it cogently, and to integrate it into a full response to today’s new kind of patient. Descriptive or medical psychiatry, psychoanalysis, interpersonal or behavioristic psychiatry, empathic or existential therapy-viewed in metaphors, respectively, of perceiving, thinking, managing, feeling-all have useful contributions to make to contemporary methods of treatment. But how? Havens’s modest answer is through appropriate language, and he demonstrates exactly what he means: when to ask questions, when to direct or draw back, when to sympathize.
Practitioners now must deal with less dramatic, but more stubborn, problems of character and situation; lack of purpose, isolation, submissiveness, invasiveness, deep yet vague dissatisfaction. Some kind of human presence must be discovered in the patient, and Havens gives concrete, absorbing examples of ways of “speaking to absence,” of making contact. The emphasis is on verbal technique, but the underlying broad, humane intent is everywhere evident. It is no less than to transform passivity, by means of disciplined therapeutic concern, into a state of being Human.
Making Contact by Leston Havens, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, is a basic grammar of empathy—a sort of Strunk and White for psychotherapists. While it may not be of much use to laymen, it might be of great interest to those who at one time or another have lain upon a couch… Obviously, the author of this quite lively and quite lovely text is interested and skilled in providing genuine verbal havens rather than with easy intellectualizations.
This highly original book, filled with illuminating clinical examples, is actually a primer of grammar and rhetoric for the psychotherapist… We are also given glimpses of the work of an artist-therapist who has crafted a personal style of great power and who consistently provides the date on which his new ideas are based… This volume is clearly the result of a lifetime of experience. It systematizes and categorizes what a wise…therapist does to help his patient… The writing is admirably lucid and simple, and those of us with less experience—or less sheer therapeutic talent—may be beguiled into thinking we can quickly achieve the therapeutic dexterity of the master therapist that Havens is… Even the most experienced therapist, however, will learn new things, will rethink the ways he or she talks to patients, and will do better work after studying this book… This is a most important contribution that I highly recommend.
This is a book about the therapeutic use of words… The author offers an excellent series of vignettes from his considerable clinical experience… This is a truly new and vital addition to the literature on psychotherapy.
With vignettes, metaphors, and a focus on the experience of the patient rather than labels or jargon, Havens depicts three kinds of language intended to facilitate contact with patients suffering from the three kinds of absence. Embedded in these approaches, however, is far more than ‘how to’ techniques. The reader is introduced to an elegant, clinically useful, and subtle way of thinking about some of our most troubled and troubling patients. Havens clearly knows that without passion there is no truth. Indeed, he demonstrates how disciplined passion can aid us not only in reaching our patients, but also in reaching the dark parts of ourselves as well.
The virtual elimination of inpatient psychotherapy in modern American psychiatry makes the appearance of Leston Havens’ book most welcome. Havens, a nationally known Harvard clinician and teacher, has gathered a lifetime of psychotherapeutic wisdom into less than 200 pages of advice to those who treat ego-damaged patients—the psychotic, the seriously depressed, and the borderline. This well-written book can be of use to therapists of all levels of sophistication.
Havens refers not only to the psychiatry greats, but to classic and contemporary authors from Shakespeare to Nabokov, to T.S. Eliot, to Wittgenstein. A dozen clinical vignettes offer a revealing glimpse into how therapy is done by a master practitioner. The book’s evocative power is reminiscent of Winnicott’s writings… Making Contact is written in lucid and energetic English and is a pleasure to read… [The book] shows how a cultured, versatile, concerned and mature therapist goes about his work—understanding patients and helping them resolve problems, change personalities, break out their alienation and find sense in themselves and in life.
- 0-5/8 x 5-1/2 x 8-1/8 inches
- Harvard University Press
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