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Kilborne, B. (1997). Falling Backwards: An Exploration Of Trust And Self-Experience. By Doris Brothers. New York: Norton, 1995.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 45:597-600.

(1997). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 45:597-600

Falling Backwards: An Exploration Of Trust And Self-Experience. By Doris Brothers. New York: Norton, 1995.

Benjamin Kilborne

In this book Doris Brothers develops the concept of self-trust and claims that the terrain she covers as she follows the various meanings of this term is “virtually uncharted” (p. 229). But, as she says, she has self psychology as her “Baedeker.” This is particularly clear as she defines self-trust as “the hope or wishful expectation of obtaining and providing the selfobject experiences necessary for cohesive selfhood” (p. 229). The uninitiated reader might well ask in vain for a cogent definition of “selfobject,” “cohesive,” and “selfhood.” Or feel dismayed at such sentences as “To say, for example, that a woman has a strong trust-in-others implies that she strongly expects other people to provide attuned responsiveness to her affective experience. To say that she has weak trust-in-self implies that she has a poor estimation of her capacity to elicit attuned responses to her affective experience” (pp. 36-37).

However, giving Brothers the benefit of the doubt, the uninitiated reader would plod on, trudging through the thick and tangled underbrush of her prose, wondering why self-trust is presented as a new way of looking at psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. And such a gentle reader might even wonder why a book written on self-trust in 1995 that claims to explore new territory would not cite the classic Emerson piece on self-reliance, together with the entire tradition of American tracts that establish independence and self-reliance as cultural ideals—fantasies generated in part, no doubt, in response to feelings of isolation and an inability to feel others either can be relied on or are worth relying on.

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