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Psychoanalytic Diagnosis, Second Edition: Understanding Personality Structure in the Clinical Process Hardcover – July 14, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-1609184940 ISBN-10: 1609184947 Edition: 2nd

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Psychoanalytic Diagnosis, Second Edition: Understanding Personality Structure in the Clinical Process + Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition: DSM-5
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 426 pages
  • Publisher: The Guilford Press; 2nd edition (July 14, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1609184947
  • ISBN-13: 978-1609184940
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,864 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"This is a book for all clinicians who aspire to understand their clients deeply and help them live more richly and authentically. McWilliams synthesizes a century of cumulative clinical wisdom and offers it in a form that is accessible and useful to clinicians of any theoretical persuasion. The first edition of Psychoanalytic Diagnosis was an instant classic; the second edition is exceptionally lucid and masterful. This is McWilliams, master clinician and teacher, at her very best."--Jonathan Shedler, PhD, Department of Psychiatry, University of Colorado School of Medicine

"In revising Psychoanalytic Diagnosis, McWilliams has surpassed herself. The original--deservedly regarded as a classic--was an integrative tour de force; the second edition is even better. Informed by current advances in neuroscience and infant research, and reshaped in light of the 'relational turn' in contemporary psychoanalysis, this book distills a vast literature on development, psychopathology, and therapy into an extraordinarily useful map of the clinical terrain. It is at once an indispensable resource for beginning therapists, a valuable teaching tool, and a comprehensive reference for seasoned clinicians."--David J. Wallin, PhD, private practice, Mill Valley and Albany, California

"In this accessible and impassioned book, McWilliams provides organizing principles to help us understand psychopathology without oversimplifying or evading the difficult questions raised by diagnosis. Reading McWilliams's book will make you feel like you know her. Her extraordinary humanity, wisdom, deep sense of ethics, and steady concern for her patients are evident throughout. The second edition includes an updated presentation of attachment theory, addresses the contributions of relational theory and neuroscience research, and integrates a contemporary understanding of somatization and defense. A 'must read' for every clinician in training."--Joyce A. Slochower, PhD, Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis, New York University

"If a 'charming textbook' seems like an oxymoron, then welcome to Nancy McWilliams's Psychoanalytic Diagnosis. Her book is just such a wonder....McWilliams has succeeded in producing a book for initial learning that will remain on her readers' desks as a frequently thumbed manual."--Psychoanalytic Books
(Psychoanalytic Books 2011-07-16)

"Thanks to McWilliams's excellent book, those of us who teach or supervise can at last offer our students and supervisees a comprehensive, exceptionally well-organized text on diagnosis, grounded in evolving psychoanalytic theory and focused on linking diagnosis to the appropriate therapeutic response....Experienced therapists will enjoy a thorough 'refresher' course while also absorbing new ideas, and less experienced clinicians will gain a solid structural foundation and essential guidelines for their clinical work."--Contemporary Psychology
(Contemporary Psychology 2011-07-16)

"With humor, warmth, and enthusiasm, Dr. McWilliams instills confidence while making the book a delectable read. There is no doubt that the goal of 'enhancing practice' has been achieved. This book is highly recommended to any clinician-in-training as a foundation for psychoanalytic thinking and also to any practicing therapist as a well-structured and comprehensive resource....This book will be a rich addition to learning about psychoanalytic diagnosis (and psychoanalytic concepts) for any younger mental health professional who is seriously interested in depth psychology. It will also be a valuable tool for more experienced clinicians and educators who would like assistance in translating fairly complex concepts into language in a framework that can be appreciated by learners of a variety of different levels of sophistication and disciplinary backgrounds."--Journal of Clinical Psychiatry
(Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 2012-10-01)

About the Author

Nancy McWilliams, PhD, ABPP, teaches in the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and has a private practice in Flemington, New Jersey. She is a former president of the Division of Psychoanalysis (39) of the American Psychological Association and is on the editorial board of Psychoanalytic Psychology. Dr. McWilliams’s books have been translated into 14 languages, and she has lectured widely both nationally and internationally. She is a recipient of honors including the Rosalee Weiss Award for contributions to practice from the Division of Independent Practitioners of the American Psychological Association; Honorary Membership in the American Psychoanalytic Association; and the Robert S. Wallerstein Visiting Scholar Lectureship in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis at the University of California, San Francisco. A graduate of the National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis, Dr. McWilliams is also affiliated with the Center for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy of New Jersey and the National Training Program of the National Institute for the Psychotherapies in New York City.


More About the Author

Nancy McWilliams, PhD, teaches psychoanalytic theory and therapy at the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology at Rutgers--The State University of New Jersey. A senior analyst with the Institute for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy of New Jersey and the National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis, she has a private practice in psychodynamic therapy and supervision in Flemington, New Jersey. Her book Psychoanalytic Diagnosis has become a standard text in many training programs for psychoanalysts, both in the United States and abroad. She has also authored articles and book chapters on personality, psychotherapy, psychodiagnosis, sexuality, feminism, and contemporary psychopathologies.

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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She writes descriptively and with clarity, which makes it easy to understand.
William Duff
Again, thank you for the excellent revision of your already excellent book, but please don't stop fighting for what we all believe!
Robbie Jay
If I had to choose one book that had the biggest influence on my training, it would be McWilliams' Psychoanalytic Diagnosis.
Tom Saric

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Tom Saric on July 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This review is mainly from having used the first edition, but I have looked through the second as well.

If I had to choose one book that had the biggest influence on my training, it would be McWilliams' Psychoanalytic Diagnosis.

The book neatly, concisely and coherently describes the theoretical underpinnings of the major schools of psychoanalysis. I haven't seen it described as well anywhere else. Those chapters alone are worth the cost of the book. The other valuable part of the book is the descriptions of the major personality pathologies, their origins as well as common transference and countertransference encountered with each. Again, this is invaluable as in most residencies and training programs, these areas are not covered in any great depth. The writing is clear, with case illustrations.

I recommend this book for any trainee in psychiatry, social work or psychology who wants to deepen their understanding of patient encounters.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Vanessa VINE VOICE on November 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I am a candidate at a psychoanalytic institute and this was one of our first textbooks. I've been told that we return to it over and over in various classes and I can easily see why.

McWilliams discusses the various personality structures in an incredibly lucid, concise ways. She talks about:
- How to recognize features of each character (depressive, paranoid, narcissistic, hysterical, etc.)
- What this person's *inner* experience is like and how it may have come to be that way
- What the therapist's experience is like with this patient (the countertransference)
- What kind of transference this person is likely to experience with the therapist
- What the treatment implications are -- how to approach each case (in general terms)
- How to distinguish each character style from various others that it's often confused with

Everything is written in an easily readable, almost conversational style. It's rare to say this about a technical textbook, but I found it hard to put it down!! McWilliams shares not only objective material (and cites research and other works) but also her own experience and some highly relevant case vignettes.

I am about to reread the book for the second time, and I am very, very thankful that such a clear book exists.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Joe Diablo on October 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When I get interested in a subject, I like to just dive right in.
This book caught my eye so I ordered the Kindle version.

Now, I've never taken a psychology class in my life.
The only other books I've read dealing with psychology were directly related to playing poker; figuring out what type of player an opponent is and predicting his/her playing decisions by analyzing body language and habitual reactions to various in-game situations (calling/raising/folding).
So I have to admit, for about the first five chapters I was having to look up just about every other word.
To me, this is actually a good thing, and half the fun. After all, studying a new subject is about learning a new set of words. Everything is vocabulary and vocabulary is everything. You know the words; you know the subject.

Once I got past that initial, verbal "boot camp," it was smooth sailing.
I love her simple, but not simplistic, way of describing some pretty deep ideas about the way people habitually deal with emotions according to what seemed to work for them growing up.
I love the way she breaks it down, with each shade of personality organization, what the biggest fear is, what the primary habitual defenses are, how they see themselves, how they relate to other people, how to approach their treatment, and how each type might get confused with some other type.
I also love how she puts a list of suggested further reading at the end of each chapter, not just at the back of the book. I'm really looking forward to my next psych book, which may very well end up being another one of her's.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Robert M. Gordon, Ph.D. on September 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I know some people will reject this book because "Psychoanalytic" is in the title. Others will reject this book because "Diagnosis" is in the title. However, this essential text is highly useful to all practitioners of any theoretical orientation if they can get past the negative stereotyping. The term "Diagnosis" as used in this book is in line with the original definition of the word that is derived from Greek- meaning a distinguishing, to perceive, to know thoroughly. The second part of the book title explains that the point of diagnosing is to know how to help. McWilliams clarifies that, "The main object of this book is to enhance practice..." and that is what this book does extremely well.
Nancy McWilliams never looses the person to the diagnosis. "Once I have a good feel for the person, the work is going well, I stop thinking diagnostically and simply immerse myself in the unique relationship that unfolds between me and the can throw away the book and savor individual uniqueness."
Her writing style is much like she describes her therapy sessions. She points out the necessity at times, to judiciously self-disclose. Her personal sharing gives the text a soul and you feel you are with a warm and wise teacher. For example when discussing the value of psychoanalysis, McWilliams discloses, "I share this opinion, having benefited all my adult life from a good early classical analysis."
Let me share with you an example of her eloquent style that pervades this text: "When any label obscures more than illuminates, practitioners are better off discarding it and relying on common sense and human decency, like the lost sailor who throws away the useless navigational chart and prefers to orient by a few familiar stars.
Read more ›
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