Balint Matters: Psychosomatics and the Art of Assessment

Author(s) : Jonathan Sklar

Balint Matters: Psychosomatics and the Art of Assessment

Book Details

  • Publisher : Routledge
  • Published : March 2017
  • Cover : Paperback
  • Pages : 254
  • Category :
  • Catalogue No : 38988
  • ISBN 13 : 9781782204862
  • ISBN 10 : 1782204865
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This book explores the life and theories of Michael Balint, who kept alive Ferenczi’s analytic traditions in Budapest and brought them to London, where they became a vital part of the Independent Group’s theory and practice. Balint’s theoretical understanding of regression, 'new beginnings', 'basic fault', as well as his profound impact on medicine, are all described.

The work in the Balint groups by general practitioners, psychiatrists, and physicians are explored. Whole person and psychosomatic medicine, championed by Balint, is contrasted with today’s more compartmentalised approach to medicine, including the increasing separation of the GP from the family.

In the second part of the book Dr Sklar reflects on the complex tasks involved in psychodynamic assessment. Vignettes illustrate the importance of understanding the forces in family dynamics, the value of an early memory and a dream, and the sexual life of the patient. The author argues that Balint's ideas are of particular significance to us today, in our world of quick fixes and the overspecialisation of medicine.

Reviews and Endorsements

Read a review of this title in 'BMJ Blogs: Medical Humanities'

‘Sklar reclaims Balint as a radical innovator in psychoanalysis as well as in family medicine and psychosomatics. Against a contemporary background of a rather
soulless and mechanistic approach to medicine and the consequent need for rediscovering ideas based in freedom and authenticity, Sklar makes a compelling case for a fresh look at Michael Balint’s extraordinary influence. Balint (and this excellent book) certainly do matter! Never more so than now.’
––Andrew Elder, FRCGP, Chair of the International Balint Federation Leadership Group

‘This radically important book shows how the different interrelated aspects of Balint’s work still matter, including his ideas about the training of the doctor as well as the psychoanalyst. One of the book’s many strengths is the way it uses Enid Balint’s work to elucidate and extend her husband’s. In keeping with his tradition, Sklar is committed to authenticity, freedom, independence and the uniqueness of psychoanalysis, the psychoanalyst, and the patient. Throughout his book, he shows an enviable lightness of touch worthy of Balint himself.’
––Ken Robinson, British Psychoanalytical Society, Visiting Professor of Psychoanalysis, Northumbria University

About the Author(s)

Jonathan Sklar, MBBS, FRCPsych, is a training analyst and fellow of the British Psychoanalytic Society. Originally trained in psychiatry at Friern and the Royal Free Hospitals, he worked for four years in psychotherapy at the Tavistock Clinic in London. For many years he was consultant psychotherapist and head of the psychotherapy department at Addenbrookes and Fulbourn hospital in Cambridge. He now works in full time analytic practice in London. He teaches and supervises at the Institute of Psychoanalysis; teaches an MSc course on 'Ferenczi and Contemporary Psychoanalysis' at University College London; and teaches in Chicago. For the past five years, he has convened a psychoanalytic conference outside Cape Town and, for thirty years, has convened Balint groups working with general practitioners and psychiatrists. He has lectured widely throughout Europe as well as in South America. His psychoanalytic papers have been published in Italian, Spanish, French, and Portuguese. From 2007-2011 he was Vice President of the European Psychoanalytic Federation.

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