Leicester clinical psychologist Arabella Kurtz in book collaboration with novelist JM Coetzee

Posted by egg3 at Sep 03, 2015 12:31 PM |
'The Good Story' currently available in the UK and available later this month in the US

Arabella Kurtz is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist who works on the University of Leicester clinical psychology training course and JM Coetzee is an acclaimed novelist who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2003 and is twice winner of the Booker Prize (for The Life and Times of Michael K and Disgrace). Together they have written a book-length dialogue about the aims and processes of psychotherapy.

It is called ‘The Good Story: Exchanges on Truth, Fiction and Psychotherapy’, and it starts from the premise that the fictional narrative that works as art may have more than a little in common with the successful therapeutic encounter.

Coetzee goes on to develop, from his position as a sympathetic outsider, a series of questions about the psychotherapeutic process, and in particular the nature of truth in the therapeutic encounter. Kurtz replies, drawing on her extensive experience of clinical work in the NHS and her training as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist. Her focus is on the way in which the therapeutic relationship can be used to deepen understanding of psychological problems, and to create possibilities for change.

The dialogue opens up to consider how one gets from a psychology of the individual to an understanding of group processes and social repression, and the similarities between therapeutic and teaching relationships. It draws on writers such as Cervantes, Dostoevsky and WG Sebald, to illuminate and explore the ideas under discussion, as well as on clinical examples and the experience of the authors.

‘The Good Story’ was published by Random House in May and the US and edition of the book will come out later this month. It has been widely praised as an engaging and unusually clear account of what psychoanalysis is all about. It has been translated into Dutch and Spanish, and in the coming months will be translated into French, Mandarin Chinese, Norwegian and Romanian.

Review extracts:

"Coetzee's writing is characteristically spare and penetrating... Kurtz proves both a lucid expositor and an evocative literary stylist, bringing psychoanalytic ideas and practices to life with rare precision and immediacy" -- Josh Cohen, Literary Review

“Kurtz… writes with wonderful eloquence about imagination and the self, parrying Coetzee's relentless unmasking with her gently intelligent demurral" -- Tessa Hadley, The Guardian

“What emerges is a Platonic dialogue with a postmodern twist. Rather than presenting a series of conclusions, the two retain their differences and their uncertainties” Talitha Stephenson, The Financial Times

“Coetzee and Kurtz range freely across space and time, from ancient spells of bewitchment to the "confessions" of celebrities in magazines. Their arguments have a meditative quality, challenging, and helpfully open-ended" -- Lewis Jones. Newsweek Europe

"It is the Man Booker prize-winning novelist's agenda that drives the absorbing discussions of this book. Kurtz's pieces are replies to Coetzee's questions, and as such are insightful for both [psychoanalysis and novel-writing]" -- Gerard Woodward, The Independent

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