I just found a great article posted online in its entirety: The Nature of Therapeutic Action in Psycho-Analysis (James Strachey, 1934). Written in the earlier days of psychoanalysis, it's considered one of the classics.
The field has evolved since then, but it's still a wonderful article, and IMO, an excellent read for anyone beginning the study depth therapies. Though the language is somewhat technical, it's quite accessible, and offers an eye-opening glimpse into one of the ways analysts may think about how interpretations can initiate change. It was also one of the first articles I read after Freud's introductory lectures.
I'd actually recommend the Strachey article as strongly as I'd recommend any books on my favorite shrinky books list, which is reposted below the fold.
Favorite shrinky books is the subject of a post at Shrinkrap. Bluetoblue gives us his top ten here. (Update: I see that Cheryl Fuller also took up the challenge--and I forgot about August, one of the books Cheryl recommends.)
In no particular order, here are a few books that have influenced my thinking over the years:
The Analysis of the Self by Heinz Kohut. In this seminal work, Kohut moved beyond drive theory, introducing the concept of the self-object transference to psychoanalysis. This enormously influential book represents the beginning of the self psychology movement that has transformed the way most contemporary psychoanalysts think about the analytic relationship. You can track the progression of Kohut's thinking in a series of books that followed the publication of Analysis of the Self.
Structures of Subjectivity: Explorations in Psychoanalytic Phenomenology by R Stolorow, B. Brandchaft. The authors move beyond Kohut, introducing the concept of the intersubjective field as the central theoretical construct necessary for an understanding of the therapeutic relationship. Also worth reading are several other books on intersubjective theory and therapy by Stolorow, Brandchaft, George Atwood, Frank Lachmann and Donna Orange.
The Interpersonal World of the Infant, by Daniel Stern. If you have difficulty with the concept of the Self, begin here. Based on extensive videotaped interactions between mothers and children, Stern developed a theory of self structuralization with profound implications for the theory and practice of depth psychotherapies.
The Bipersonal Field: In this book and in his subsequent works, Robert Langs developed an adaptive theory of the mind featuring two emotion processing systems: the conscious system, which is fraught with anxiety-reducing defensive distortions, and a brilliantly perceptive unconscious processor that is extremely wise, but also anxiety-provoking. Within a therapeutic context, both of these systems react to triggering deviations from the ideal therapeutic framework, often in opposing ways. Langs developed a system of trigger decoding based upon conscious AND unconscious communication about these adaptive reactions. My approach to listening, framework management and self-supervision was forever changed by Langs.
Borderline Personality and Pathological Narcissism: Otto Kernberg offers rich theoretical insight into primitive affects, defenses and object relations. Although he certainly isn't the last word on the subject, if you're serious about understanding the borderline personality organization, Kernberg is essential reading.
Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis Freud (translation Strachey). It all began for me here.
The Technique and Practice of Psychoanalysis, Vol I by Ralph Greenson. I read this early in my training. A nice primer on classical analytic practice.
Playing and Reality by Donald Winnicott. I feel compelled to quote Amazon reviewer Franz Metcalf at length, in his response to a couple of know-nothings who panned this brilliant work:
[I]n an enormous leap away from Freud--[Winnicott creates] a vision of the complex and beautiful relationship of the infant and primary caregiver. In fact he speaks of the "mother infant dyad," rather than two separate persons during the first few months of life. From this union, if all goes well, the child gradual emerges and develops a sense of self through a process of disillusionment by the mother, in doses the infant can withstand.
As this occurs, the child symbolizes the lost union with the mother in what DWW calls "transitional objects" and, with the comfort of these objects, begins to play in what DWW calls the "potential space." We might call it the realm of culture, of love, and of religion. Only with successful caregiving does the child have a chance to fully develop as a person, and DWW shows, in loving detail and case histories, how this happens through the devotion of the mother.This is why DWW's work is vital not merely to psychoanalysts, but to every person on this planet. His work has influenced two generations of therapists, theorists, and educators and, indirectly, every one of us. Further, his work has increasingly been supported by developmental insights gained from attachment theory and other experimental and verifiable studies.
Affect Regulation and the Origin of the Self by Allan N. Schore. A staggering integration of neuroscience, child development, the mother-child dyad, brain-to-brain communication, psychotherapy, psychology of the self, affect regulation, psychopathology and the kitchen sink. Also check out Affect Dysregulation and Disorders of the Self, Affect Regulation and Repair of the Self. Schore is brilliant.
Commenter Katie at Shrink Rap recommended Learning from the Patient, by Patrick Casement. I can endorse her recommendation. Initially I included this book in my list, but dropped it before posting, not because it isn't outstanding, but because it didn't particularly exert any new influence on my thinking. For those who are not familiar with unconscious communication, internal supervision, supervision by the patient and what Casement calls communication by impact (arising from projective identification), this book will offer a wealth of helpful insights into the therapeutic process.