" The conversational model is] the result of 30 years experience of working with distressed people and the utterly human problems of being together and yet so far from one another. It's about key words and concepts that are recognisable in any therapy session."--"Social Work Today"
Few writers of fiction are so solicitous of the reader's needs for clarity of thought and feeling as this English psychiatrist and scholar. Hobson writes as a man of science, but he has learned half of his skills from art and artists - Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Conrad, Rilke - and the Bible. His main task in this careful, reasonable, preferred, and loving book is to codify the process of psychotherapy into a working model - the so-called "conversational model." His wish is to teach better practice. Done right, he contends, psychotherapy is a feeling conversation. That takes two. Hobson addresses himself mainly to the practitioners, but any analysand has much to learn here, too. "The important therapeutic factor," he writes, "is not so much what is said but rather how it is said. . .it is the stories that matter, and how they are told." Doctor and patient together must fashion their own "verbal or nonverbal language of feeling" in which the all-important story can be given and received. Most often it is about loss and separation, frequently of and from a parent, recently or long since gone. The conversational model, Hobson says, is appropriate to patients "whose symptoms and problems arise from defects or disturbances of significant relationships" - in other words, your garden variety neurotics. He builds his book around deceptively simple stories taken from his own clinical practice, and referring to them again and again, he explicates the details and convincingly deepens their meanings. A number of themes appear, among them "aloneness-togetherness" as the appropriate human relationship, every person's multiplicity of selves, and the profound difference between treating humans as persons rather than as things. The "persecutory therapist" comes in for a devastating analysis. So does the good and honest one who, Hobson insists, must recognize "how we use patients for our own ends: how in our 'professional' work we seek satisfaction for our own limited needs, and how we avoid deep-seated fears, of failure, guilt, destruction, meaninglessness, loneliness, and death."Hobson was an early enthusiast of Jung, but the marriage of thought and feeling that his book represents establishes him as singularly authoritative voice in his chosen field. (Kirkus Reviews)