Personal Experiences and Clinical Reflections

Paper: 978 1 78220 491 6 / $43.95
Published: December 2016  

Publisher: Karnac Books
240 pp., 6" x 9"
This is a book about death, loss, grief and mourning, but with an unusual twist. It is different in that it explores specific kinds of deaths encountered within families and households, rather than general concepts of mourning. It is even more unusual because here six psychoanalysts reveal how they have suffered, processed, and survived losses in their own lives; at the same time bringing clinical and theoretical perspectives of various psychoanalytic schools to bear on their own, as well as others’, experiences.

The narratives in this book use the power of subjective experience, as described by psychoanalysts themselves, to understand, contextualize, and extend existing clinical approaches. Each chapter addresses the death of a different loved one. The losses discussed include death of a mother, death of a father, death of a sibling, death of a spouse, death of a child, and death of a pet (recognizing the deep significance of pets in human households). These accounts are bookended by a chapter reviewing the spectrum of emotional reactions to death and current ideas of grief and mourning, and a chapter weaving together the many narratives as well as exploring some additional situations and ideas.

Table of Contents:
About the Editors and Contributors

1) Bereavement: the spectrum of emotional reactions—Salman Akhtar

Specific Situations
2) Death of mother—Kerry L. Malawista
3) Death of father—Thomas Wolman
4) Death of sibling—Frederick H. Lowy
5) Death of spouse—Ruth H. Livingston
6) Death of child—Ann G. Smolen
7) Death of pet—Christie Platt

8) Death: the last chapter—Gurmeet S. Kanwal


Reviews & Endorsements:
"Salman Akhtar and Gurmeet S. Kanwal offer us a superbly edited volume on bereavement. Its contributors share with the reader their intimate, painful, and profound experiences as they mourn the death of a child, parent, sibling, spouse, or pet. Together, they offer us many new insights, including that 'libido' is never completely detached from any relationship. Mental health professionals and lay people alike will benefit from this deep exploration of the timeless and universal experience of mourning."
- Axel Hoffer, MD , Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute
"Reading this book, I felt accompanied in my own grief. The contributors, all exceptionally thoughtful and scholarly clinicians, illuminate their various losses with selected theoretical constructs, combined with uncommon clarity and emotional generosity. Their heartfelt language invites the reader into an intimate conversation that is moving, unforgettable, and ultimately sustaining. A must-read for those engaged in the 'helping' professions and anyone wanting to better understand the role loss plays in our lives."
- Sandra Buechler, PhD , William Alason White Institute, New York