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Rizzuto, A. (1997). Affects As Process: An Inquiry Into The Centrality Of Affect In Psychological Life. By Joseph M. Jones. Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press, 1995, 268 pp., $39.95.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 45:973-978.

(1997). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 45:973-978

Affects As Process: An Inquiry Into The Centrality Of Affect In Psychological Life. By Joseph M. Jones. Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press, 1995, 268 pp., $39.95.

Review by:
Ana-María Rizzuto

Jones's intention in writing this book is to reevaluate the theory of affect in psychoanalysis from a developmental and ethological point of view. Jones challenges Freud's basic stance on the conceptualization of affect in an effort to integrate recent findings in child development into contemporary psychoanalytic theory and psychological theories of affects.

Freud would have approved of Jones's efforts to implement the continuous revision of theory he considered indispensable. In New Introductory Lectures(1933) he remarked that “The deeper we penetrate into the study of mental processes the more we recognize their abundance and complexity. A number of simple formulas which … seemed to meet our needs have later turned out to be inadequate. We do not tire of altering and improving them” (p. 81).

However, as Blum (1991) points out, affect, in particular the relationship between representation and affect in the formation and transformation of psychic processes, remains to this day a controversial point in psychoanalytic theory. Indeed, affect is probably the most difficult subject in psychoanalysis and in psychology. The difficulty arises from the need to elaborate a theory that simultaneously satisfies a number of points of view—biological, observational, developmental, structural, dynamic, and economic—while it does justice to people's subjective experiences both in everyday life and in the analytic situation. We must ask if it is possible to respond to all these requirements by presenting a unified theory of affect, or if we may have to divide up the problem and look at it from different angles.

Jones's Affects as Process attempts to elaborate a comprehensive theory of affect using the observations of ethologists, infancy researchers, and child analysts.

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