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Schopenhauer's Porcupines: Intimacy And Its Dilemmas: Five Stories Of Psychotherapy [Paperback]

Deborah Luepnitz
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 24 2003
Each generation of therapists can boast of only a few writers like Deborah Luepnitz, whose sympathy and wit shine through a fine, luminous prose. In Schopenhauer's Porcupines she recounts five true stories from her practice, stories of patients who range from the super-rich to the homeless and who grapple with panic attacks, psychosomatic illness, marital despair, and sexual recklessness. Intimate, original, and triumphantly funny, Schopenhauer's Porcupines goes further than any other book in unveiling the secrets of "how talking helps."

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From Publishers Weekly

Throughout its history, psychological theory has contended that at least part of what can make maintaining intimate relationships so difficult is the conflict between feeling aggressive and loving toward the same person. Luepnitz, a psychotherapist and author of The Family Interpreted, finds a metaphor for this problem of intimacy in Schopenhauer's porcupine dilemma a story of how porcupines in winter must struggle between the desire to seek warmth from closeness with each other and the pain they feel from one another's quills as they become too close. Drawing from the writings of Winnicott, Lacan and Freud, along with case studies, Luepnitz not only provides insight into the practice of a wide range of psychotherapeutic treatments (such as couples therapy, family therapy and supportive psychotherapy), but also shows how psychotherapy can help people balance their conflicting feelings of love and hate via discourse and reflection. Written for a general audience, this book is enjoyable to read and nicely describes the treatment of a variety of patients, from an 11-year-old girl struggling to control stress-induced diabetes to a homeless woman dealing with poverty and a history of abusive relationships. Although such anecdotes cannot "prove" the validity of psychotherapeutic methods, Luepnitz's book does give those who may be curious or skeptical about "talk therapies" the opportunity to consider whether psychotherapy is right for them.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Clinical psychologist Luepnitz (The Family Interpreted) practices psychotherapy and teaches at the University of Pennsylvania. A family therapist with Freudian roots but without his authoritarianism, she writes effectively for both lay and professional readers. "The therapy boat is made for rocking," she says, showing how the therapist tries to create balance and assure safety on the rocky ride, despite her own uncertainty about what will happen next. The title metaphor, quoted by Freud, alludes to the prickliness of being close, and Luepnitz offers five illustrative stories of her own, which concern a couple, a family, and three individuals. Comfortably open, Luepnitz writes with humor and humility, adding glimpses of intellectual mentors like Winnicott, Lacan, and Rank and deftly addressing big themes that involve Don Juan and Oedipus. Luepnitz reveals patient and therapist as partners on the pilgrimage toward intimacy. An exemplary casebook, this can be recommended for all libraries, along with a recent view from the other side: Tales from the Couch: Writers on Therapy, edited by Jason Schinder. E. James Lieberman, George Washington Univ., Sch. of Medicine, Washington, DC
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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IT IS A CLEAR London morning, unusually bright for November, and I am making my way to number 20 Maresfield Gardens. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wise, Witty, and Quite Wonderful April 21 2002
By A Customer
"Schopenhauer's Pocupines" is an amazing and very human book, detailing with wisdom and sharp wit our struggle to balance desire for intimacy with an ongoing need for autonomy, even--perhaps especially!--in our most cherished relationships. Deborah Luepnitz has a graceful, witty style, and her book is chock full of insights, without being in the least bit overbearing or patronizing. The book doesn't try to be a panacea for all relationships; instead, it reveals common traits that often spoil and undermine them. I recommend the book highly.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful, compassionate and accessible May 26 2002
By richard
With great grace and empathy, Luepnitz traces five divergent routes through the sometimes difficult process of analysis. Luepnitz' considerable training and erudition illuminate not just psychoanalytic history and theory, but the relationships of patients and their families as they evolve through analysis. The stories of her patients' progress are as richly rewarding in analytic terms as any found in Freud or Lacan, but told with more humor and consideration for the reader. (In that respect, I suspect Luepnitz has implictly situated the reader as a necessary and welcome participant in the book and the analytic process she describes--as being in another kind of relationship with the analyst/writer and patient/subject). Perhaps most impressive is Luepnitz' ability to challenge and engage those familiar with psychotherapy, while remaining accessible and rewarding to newcomers. As her wonderful chapter titles suggest ("A Darwinian Finch," "Don Juan in Trenton") Luepnitz is especially adept, aesthetically and analytically, at translating the paradoxes of the unconscious, and showing how analysis can help us understand our possibilities as well as our limitations. Her reflections on the analyst's political and social role in contemporary society are also compelling and refreshing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A playful and moving book July 21 2003
By A Customer
In this book, the author moves deftly between playfulness and seriousness, commentary and case content, case theory and compassion. For a psychodynamic therapist, Luepnitz is unusually self-revealing, without in any way allowing her own presence to preempt the central role of her patients in their own dramas.
The book made me think about Lacan some more, which was something of a surprise as he is a thinker whose work I tend to dismiss out of hand. It also helped me think about the practice of psychotherapy and the ways in which sticking to received wisdom -- as patient or therapist -- can lead to a central deadness in the work. No such danger appears to attend Luepnitz' work as presented here, and it strikes me that she must be a damn good therapist.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Human stories and fascinating theory April 30 2002
Deborah Luepnitz has crafted not only an engrossing telling of five very different and revealing stories but, between the lines and around the edges, a revelation of the power of the "talking cure" of psychoanalysis in contemporary society. She helped me understand the applicability of the often obtuse Jacques Lacan and creates the wonderful image of the analyst working in a space between the teachings of Lacan and the more optimistic (I would once have thought incompatible) Donald Winnicott. An intellectual, spiritual, sweet, and often funny work.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written and sensitive Aug. 1 2002
By A Customer
A beautifully written book - Luepnitz comes across as intelligent and educated, and genuinely sensitive and caring. Not at all preachy. An unusually delightful read.
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