Developmental, Cultural, and Clinical Realms

Paper: 978 1 78220 589 0 / $46.95
Published: July 2017  

Publisher: Karnac Books
264 pp., 6" x 9"
Missed opportunities, unfulfilled dreams, and broken promises are the stuff of everyday life, and so is regret, the emotion that accompanies them. Unlike remorse, which is consequent upon the realization that one has hurt a loved one, regret revolves around a wistful sense of having let oneself down. Middle aged and elderly individuals are specially prone to regret; the wish to reverse what one did wrong gets intensified as time left to live becomes shorter. Regret also carries with it the potential of masochistic self-flagellation which conceals the omnipotent belief that things could have been otherwise; the fact that life is what it is thus gets denied and eclipsed.

Akhtar and Siassi's edited volume on regret addresses this inoptimally studied emotion from developmental, cultural, and clinical vantage points. It deepens our understanding of regret, enhances our empathy with 'spilled-milk' hand-wringing, and sharpens our technical skills to help persons burdened by chronic regret.

Table of Contents:
About the Editors and Contributors

Part I: Developmental Realms
1) The capacity for regret in children and adolescents—Susan L. Donner
2) Regret, resolution, and reparation in marital relationships—Joan Lachkar
3) The trajectory of remorse to regret in old age—Shahrzad Siassi

Part II: Cultural Realms
4) The poetics of regret in repetition, mourning, and reparation—Ingrid M. Geerken
5) Of regret and Plato’s ghost—Nilofer Kaul
6) Regret on the screen and regret as a screen—Apurva Shah

Part III: Clinical Realms
7) Regret, nostalgia, and masochism—Salman Akhtar
8) Developmental perspectives in the treatment of regret—Theodore Fallon
9) Clinical transformation of intolerable regret into tolerable regret—Susan Kavaler-Adler
10) Longing for a second chance—Richard Tuch


Reviews & Endorsements:
“In a book of luminous beauty, Salman Akhtar and Shahrzad Siassi have brought together excellent pieces of writing on the clinically significant topic of regret. The chapters cover the vistas of the life cycle, take us from poetry to the movies, and into the privacy of the consulting room. Reading it was like getting an excellent consultation on my own current work. This book has the capacity to help all of us immensely on both clinical and personal levels.”
- Aisha Abbasi, MD, training and supervising analyst, Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute, and author of the Rupture of Serenity: External Intrusions and Psychoanalytic Technique
“Regret is a commonplace emotion of human existence that has been infrequently addressed as a separate subject of psychoanalytic study. This volume seeks to remedy that omission by offering a series of thoughtful essays anchored in clinical experience that explore regret and related phenomena such as guilt, remorse and reparation, from developmental, cultural and clinical perspectives. Readers of all theoretical persuasions and levels of experience will come away from this evocative book with a humbled sense and profound appreciation of the challenges inherent in the analytic encounter and the human condition.”
- Howard B. Levine, MD, faculty, Psychoanalytic Institute of New England (East) and supervising analyst, Massachusetts Institute of Psychoanalysis