This volume builds on the idea, developed by psychiatrist Harry Stack Sullivan in the first half of the 20th century, that the social experiences between people, particularly those close to them, determine their sense of self and guide their behavior. The authors seek to update this theory with an eye toward clinical applications for 21st-century conditions. Examples include treatment of individuals with LGBTQIA+ identities, changing views of so-called mental disorders, and changing household environments. The theory and its associated “talk” therapies are counters to the prevalent psychiatric perspectives that the authors claim are wrongly couched in short-term drug fixes and guided by pressures from insurance companies rather than by evidence of long-term changes in behavioral patterns. Related to classical psychoanalytic thought, the theory builds on concepts of developmental eras and particularly the formative experiences one has during childhood. Considering rapidly changing notions of adolescence in the 21st century, the authors provide intriguing insights into the influence of the “juvenile era” and preadolescence on personality and behavior. Recommended. Advanced undergraduates through faculty; professionals.


Choice Reviews, July, 2024

[Considered the leading source for reviews of academic books for higher education libraries and faculty]


Regarding Early Infancy Chapter: It is a very good chapter, reviewing the new ideas that are hotly debated. About how we grow to share one another’s purposes and feelings, seeking to build companionship. It needs a revolution in psychology, linguistics and childcare and education, as well as humanisation of industry, commerce, law and politics. We will have to watch who pays attention to what the new thinking leads to in government, local and national.

Colwyn Trevarthen, Emeritus Professor of Child Psychology and Psychobiology, University of Edinburgh

I am a practicing psychiatrist at a teaching hospital. I was fortunate and grateful to receive an advance copy of this book. The book captures the core concepts of Interpersonal psychoanalytic theory with much clarity and depth. The concepts are brought to light with numerous clinical examples. There is no pontification here. This is a very practical and engaging book.

In fact, I have used it to teach a course on this Theory to psychiatry residents with much positive feedback. The book was indispensable in helping me prepare this course. The residents have remarked: “This makes so much sense. You mean this is all one theory? We don’t have to use various theories depending on the case?”; “I see how their history is connected to their current problems.”

The writings of Harry Stack Sullivan, the founder of this Theory, are rich and detailed but not easy to read. This book has distilled the concepts of Interpersonal Theory and made them clear, digestible and useful. The book aims to educate therapists and non-therapists alike. It accomplishes both goals with ease, which is no easy feat for a book on psychoanalysis.

Namratha Boda, M.D, Attending Psychiatrist, Maimonides Medical Center, Brooklyn NY

The humanist premise of this accessible and substantial book is that you are never too young or too old to grow emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. The underpinning of Interpersonal Psychoanalytic Theory sounds obvious: people are raised by other people. But in the current pharmaceutically dominated approach to treating mental distress and/or disorders, re-interpreting this system for the twenty-first century is a valuable contribution to lay readers and professionals. One of the most attractive features of the book is that the chapters cover development stages from womb to adulthood. Yes, there is a summary of cutting-edge research into development in the womb! The developmental stages can be read discretely. So if you are a parent concerned about a withdrawn child, you can start at the child’s age and work back. Similarly, if you are a young adult trying to untangle negative aspects of coping habits you formed as a child, you can start at your age or from the beginning. If you are a senior citizen yearning to reshape your connection to your grown children, you can find pointers in this book. For my community, LGBTQ, there is a chapter and several case histories oriented to the additional stresses members of the community experience. The authors have long experience working with patients. The writing is always clear, yet offers copious academic citations.


Loretta Goldberg, B.A. (Hons.); M.A.; C.L.U.; Fulbright Scholar, Award-winning author of The Reversible Mask; An Elizabethan Spy Novel. (MadeGlobal Publishing, 2018). A lay reader’s endorsement of Evolving Self

As a clinical psychologist/psychotherapist who went into this field because I was inspired by the liberating concepts of psychoanalysis as developed by F. Fromm-Reichmann, H.S. Sullivan, R.D. Laing and other theoreticians and practitioners of long-term psychoanalytically oriented psychotherapy, I welcome Evolving Self; A New Perspective on Interpersonal Psychoanalytic Theory.

This book challenges the “quick fix” approaches of the past 30 years or more fostered, as the writers correctly point out, by both the insurance and pharmaceutical industries and other social and political realities. There is little inclination toward a long-term treatment process that can identify and correct maladaptive ways of relating to others. The book relies on a developmental analysis of where “problems in living,” as Sullivan puts it, begin and get solidified, with case history examples. The writers remind us of what is possible and necessary if we are to truly help people heal some of the damage done in non-empathic child rearing. Five-session counseling and pills that address specific symptoms can be useful, but hardly address the broader issues that afflict so many of us.

I highly recommend this refreshing book for all those interested in the liberation potential of psychotherapy and self-study that we rarely hear about today in popular or professional discourse.

Suzanne Ross, Ph.D. Clinical Psychologist in private practice, New York City

Evolving Self serves as a fantastic guide for clinicians seeking to engage the interpersonal therapeutic approach. The concepts within the interpersonal frame have been distilled and modernized in a way that serves the current and ever-changing clinical sphere. In addition to presenting a practical guide, Evolving Self makes strong use of case presentations that further drive the applicability of these methods within the therapeutic space.

Evolving Self provides tools that have been easy to integrate with my current practice. Thus far, I have been able to broaden the scope of therapeutic inquiry through the use of intentional and specific questions that help drive sessions while generating space to learn much more about my client and their experiences. I look forward to utilizing Evolving Self as a tool to further expand my work.


Dani T, LMSW, recent Social Work graduate, now a staff psychotherapist at a community mental health clinic

Evolving Self presents a refreshing and welcome expansion of the psychological perspective in order to understand an individual’s behavior and emotions within the context of their interpersonal relationships. Where we are and where we are going in the journey of life depends so much on where we have been and with whom we have travelled and interacted.  Our “self” as a static entity is an abstraction that obscures the dynamic essence of all of nature, including personality. This important work provides theoretical insights that will help non-clinicians as well as clinicians understand individuals in the context of personal, social and historical development.  As a public health researcher with an interest in the intersection of health and public policy, I found Evolving Self well worth the read!


Hillel W. Cohen, DrPH, MPH, Clinical Professor of Epidemiology and Population Health, Albert Einstein College of Medicine