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Meissner, W.W. (1996). Paranoia: New Psychoanalytic Perspectives. Edited by John M. Oldham and Stanley Bone. Madison, CT: Int. Univ. Press, 1994, x + 174 pp., $27.50.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 44:933-934.

(1996). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 44:933-934

Paranoia: New Psychoanalytic Perspectives. Edited by John M. Oldham and Stanley Bone. Madison, CT: Int. Univ. Press, 1994, x + 174 pp., $27.50.

Review by:
W. W. Meissner, S.J.

Paranoia is a subject that has proven over the decades to be a source of endless fascination and rejuvenation of psychoanalytic hypotheses. Beginning with Freud's analysis of the Schreber case and extending down to Lacan's early excursions into psychoanalytic theorizing, the phenomenon of paranoid mental processes and psychological functioning has continued to exercise its enticing appeal. The present slender volume undertakes to add its modicum of new insights to this body of knowledge.

The volume pulls together a small selection of papers reflecting current developments in the theorizing about paranoid states. Several of the papers have been previously published. Overall, the quality of the contributions is a bit uneven, as might be expected of such a compilation, and in aggregate the impact of the volume is muted. While the contributions do bring the reader's understanding to a point more or less congruent with current interests in and theorizing about paranoia, the claim announced in the title in execution falls somewhat short of its ambition. Even contributions that appear here for the first time tend to rehearse previous developments rather than advance our thinking to any degree. The historical review is highly selective and superficial: Segal's Kleinian contribution allows that paranoid symptomatology may not always manifest itself in psychotic form; Shapiro's paper on paranoid character is reminiscent of his previous thinking; Kernberg's piece on paranoid leadership rehearses his previous contributions on pathology in organizational systems; and Blum's otherwise fine paper reviews previous work on beating fantasies and failures of object constancy in understanding paranoid phenomena. This last paper offers a fine clinical case discussion, and, together with Goldberg's paper on lovesickness and Cooper's discussion of paranoid manifestations in analytic experience, provides a basis of sound and experienced clinical judgment regarding the therapeutic management of paranoid patients.

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