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Horwitz, L. (1996). Mind And Its Treatment: A Psychoanalytic Approach. By Veikko Tähkä. Madison, CT: Int. Univ. Press, 1993, 490 pp., $60.00.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 44:949-953.

(1996). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 44:949-953

Mind And Its Treatment: A Psychoanalytic Approach. By Veikko Tähkä. Madison, CT: Int. Univ. Press, 1993, 490 pp., $60.00.

Review by:
Leonard Horwitz

With the publication of this book, the author has established himself as a major psychoanalytic thinker and contributor in the English-speaking world. A well-published writer and teacher in his native Finland, Tähkä has produced a magnum opus which is obviously the product of many years of profound and creative thinking about the major issues in psychoanalytic theory and treatment.

Anyone choosing to present a new, comprehensive volume encompassing the development of the mind, the essential concepts of the psychoanalytic encounter, and specific techniques of dealing with the whole spectrum of psychopathology—psychotic, borderline, neurotic—needs to bring a sufficiently novel and unique perspective to justify the undertaking. Without any question, the author has fulfilled such an expectation. The book is replete with highly original ideas, amply connected to the mainstream of ego psychology and object relations theory, but also unique and thought provoking. His work at the Austin Riggs Center from 1959 to 1961, and again from 1987 to 1989, unquestionably contributed to the breadth of his knowledge and understanding of the major contributors in this country.

Tähkä tends to eschew the structural concepts of id, ego, and superego in favor of the process of development and internalization of mental representations. Structural theory is viewed as excessively experience-distant in contrast to those theories that place a primary emphasis upon seeking out and maintaining human relationships. Tähkä believes that the primary human motivation is establishing and maintaining differentiation between self and other as a way of avoiding the dissolution of the self. He conceptualizes the beginning of differentiation as related to the infant's experience of gratification, which becomes mentally represented first, while the negative affects of pain and frustration find representation afterward.

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