Case And Commentary: William Bergquist, Ph.D.
Louis Breger is a prominent psychoanalyst and psychologist who co-founded the Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis in Los Angeles, while also serving as a professor of psychoanalytic studies at the California Institute of Technology. The author of many books and articles — including the acclaimed biography, Freud: Darkness in the Midst of Vision — Lou Breger published a book recently that offers a unique perspective on the processes and outcomes of psychodynamic therapy. In Psychotherapy: Lives Intersecting, Breger contacts men and women with whom he has conducted both short term and long term psychotherapy over a fifty year span of time. Thirty former clients offer candid appraisals of their work with Lou — sometimes laudatory and other times quite critical. Lou Breger openly shares all of these appraisals and offers quite candid comments about his own thoughts, feelings and actions while working with these thirty clients.
In this essay, we present one of the cases from Psychotherapy: Lives Intersecting and then provide our own comments regarding this case, exploring the inter-subjectivity perspective that underlies Lou Breger’s work, while also exploring implications for understanding the dynamics underlying this case from a perspective offered by those in the emerging field of social neurobiology.
The case presented by Breger consists of three elements. Breger first offers a brief overview of the case. The assessment provided by the client (“Yael”) is then offered in her own words. Lou Breger occasionally inserts his own comments [placed in brackets] in the midst of Yael’s statement. Lou Breger concludes the case with an update about Yael and offers a few closing comments.
The Case Study
“Yael” was just a year or two out of college when she first came to see me many years ago. We met five times a week, initially face to face, and then with her lying on the couch and then, again, sitting up. The frequency of sessions tapered down over the years and we now speak every other week on the telephone. When she began her therapy she was still reeling from the death of her mother that occurred during her sophomore year in college. She was extremely anxious, suffered enormous guilt focused on her mother’s death-she was not “allowed” to have a real life of her own-had many fears about her health and body, and tried to manage all of this with a variety of obsessions and compulsions. Her account covers almost all the features of analytic psychotherapy.