Clinical Dicta and Contra Dicta: The Therapy Process from Inside Out and Outside In

Author(s) : John C. Espy

Clinical Dicta and Contra Dicta: The Therapy Process from Inside Out and Outside In

Book Details

  • Publisher : Karnac Books
  • Published : January 2016
  • Cover : Paperback
  • Pages : 122
  • Category :
    Clinical Psychology
  • Category 2 :
  • Catalogue No : 37576
  • ISBN 13 : 9781782203711
  • ISBN 10 : 1782203710
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This book looks at the therapy process from both the inside out and the outside in. Over many years of sitting with patients and supervisees, Dr John Espy found that the themes represented here kept emerging in one form or another: Are we winsome or loathsome? Are we self-knowing or self-concealing? Psychoanalysis is a psychic pilgrimage that reveals the depths of both our capacity to love and our depravity. Life is not clean and is fraught with temptations to undermine those behaviours which are in our own best interests, the greatest perhaps being those deceptions about what we reveal of who we really are.

Part One explores these dynamics in the form of laconic adages; Part Two considers contradiction in clinical vignettes; while Part Three examines how serial killers use projective identification to groom and ultimately ensnare their victims. The author’s insights here into how a serial perpetrator uses projective identification are both insightful and compelling.

Reviews and Endorsements

‘From the author of searing books on serial murder comes a collection of thoughts and pressures brewing during some thirty-five years of practice. It contains showers of insight, dramatic vignettes, and pointed attempts to penetrate the core of psyche and life. The author is touched by streaming impacts on many levels which he shares with the readers, who should prepare themselves for galactic travel in the detailed, down to earth work we do.’
- Michael Eigen, author of Image, Sense, Infinities, and Everyday Life

‘This book’s slender form belies its hidden depths. Many of John C. Espy’s thoughts are so wise they should be inscribed in stone. Every page was a delight, offering a potent blend of wisdom and thought-provoking insights – micro-truths garnered from the consulting room that become universal maxims. It would be an understatement to describe John C. Espy’s book as thought provoking. I found myself mulling over his words long after I had finished reading.’
- Antonino Ferro, President of the Italian Psychoanalytic Society, and author of Reveries: An Unfettered Mind

About the Author(s)

John C. Espy, PhD, LCSW, has been practicing psychotherapy and psychoanalysis for the past thirty-five years. He was supervised by R.D. Laing for many years and conducted a weekly supervision group with Sheldon Kopp. He has worked extensively in the area of primitive and psychotic personalities and has interviewed more than twenty serial murderers and pedophiles in the United States and Europe as part of his research on the manifestation of malignant projective-identification. His current practice primarily focuses on clinical and forensic consultation and long term treatment. He was previously a neurotoxicologist with NASA and has taught at numerous universities throughout the United States. Dr Espy is also a long standing member of the American Academy of Psychotherapists, the American Association for Psychoanalysis in Clinical Social Work and northwestern United States group moderator for the International Neuropsychoanalysis Society.

More titles by John C. Espy

Customer Reviews

Our customers have given this title an average rating of 5 out of 5 from 2 review(s), add your own review for this title.

Maurice Goldstein, MD on 11/06/2016 22:59:15

Rating1Rating2Rating3Rating4Rating5 (5 out of 5)

I happened to see this book at Strands in NYC, thought the title looked interesting and picked it up on a lark. I had no idea of what I was getting into. I have been a practicing psychiatrist and analyst for 40 years and the insights in this thin, explosive volume have taken me to another level of insight and practice. The book is in three sections. The first are what Espy calls, "laconic adages', part two are short clinical vignettes while part three is the most profound discussion of projective-identification using the author's background in studying serial murders and primitive personalities as a staging point.
Clinical Dicta is also a book of philosophy of the human condition. The insights that Espy discusses are those which EVERY psychodynamic therapist should be examining. I read it through on twice and then decided that I would take an adage a day and reflect on it, almost as a clinical meditation, as I sit in my office listening to patients. These are NOT spoon fed clinical insights or cliches but often gut-retching truths about how we work. The clinical vignettes are like nothing I have ever read before. The 'typical' clinical story of, "Bob was a 50 y/o, white male with three children, married three times and is having an affair..." are definitely NOT the type of vignettes Espy presents. These are for lack of a better word 'real'. They are presentations of situations that rip at our guts, not in a sentimental way but rather in a way that demands exploration. They also display a sense of drama and take the reader into the consultation room.
In many respects reading this book is like sitting and listening to a very wise supervisor. The chapter on projective-identification is nothing short of profound and is the most structurally insightful delineation and exploration of projective-identification I have ever read. It certainly rivals anything Bion wrote about. Use this book as a means of self supervision or as a book for discussion in a supervision group, which we are doing in my clinical discussion group here in NY.
Clinical Dicta and Contra Dicta is a profound book and one that should be required reading. I don't know who the photographer is who did the cover photo but it is as provocative as the interior content of the book.

Richard A. Plank on 06/03/2016 02:15:41

Rating1Rating2Rating3Rating4Rating5 (5 out of 5)

An encapsulation of a lifetime of work and sacrifice in a profession requires that a dedicated professional be both a teacher and a student. John Espy's "Clinical Dicta and Contra Dicta" is a concise offering of the many thoughts and choices he has faced over years in the practice of Psychotherapy.

The first section is a set of engaging aphorisms and analects. They challenge the reader with their immediacy. Some readers may be in agreement, while others may experience discordance, but finally, and perhaps the intended purpose of this section may be to make the reader reflect and "think" about clinical choices.

The second section is a set of narratives relating to encounters with patients. The reader is advised to remember that patients are "human beings" and not mere numbers in a procedural book.

The third section presents "Malignant" Projective Identification, as it specifically pertains to serial mass murderers. This information is chilling, and it describes how a perpetrator manages to feed into the needs of a victim, then ensnares the victim in a loop of dependence. For further study, one may refer to Dr. Espy's acclaimed trilogy "Eat the Evidence" (Karnac Books), which reveals in detail the life of pedophiliac cannibal Nathaniel Bar Jonah.

"Clinical Dicta and Contra Dicta" is a very concise book. It challenges the reader to consider and explore choices. It is also an engaging glimpse, and perhaps an aid to illuminations in the practice of psychotherapy. I highly recommend this book. I hope you will find, as both student and teacher, pleasure in reading and rereading this inspiring and compelling book.

Richard A. Plank

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