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Allison, G.H. (1997). Reconstruction In Psychoanalysis: Childhood Revisited And Recreated. By Harold Blum. Madison, CT: International Universities Press, 1994, 106 pp.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 45:985-988.

(1997). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 45:985-988

Reconstruction In Psychoanalysis: Childhood Revisited And Recreated. By Harold Blum. Madison, CT: International Universities Press, 1994, 106 pp.

Review by:
George H. Allison

This book is a scholarly, comprehensive treatment of the history and present-day relevance of reconstruction. It also explicates other, tangential issues of psychoanalytic theory and technique, including transference in the here and now; the importance of the developmental point of view for reconstruction; narrative and historical truth; psychic versus material or external reality; the theory of trauma; and the importance of specific childhood memory versus a more integrative view of childhood events, both inner and outer.

At times one feels that the breadth of this slim volume is too great and that an argument more focused on Blum's main point, that there is a revival of interest in reconstruction, would better serve the reader's interests. However, the scope of Blum's subject matter is cogently related to the argument he presents—that reconstruction is an integrative activity, though different from the analytic process of which it is a part.

In earlier papers Blum has written specifically about his views on reconstruction and the related subjects used here to buttress his argument for its importance in present-day analytic work. He maintains that reconstruction continues to be a central clinical and theoretical concept, as it was in Freud's day. He holds that this is true despite recent psychoanalytic theorizing that accords it secondary or even negligible importance. I refer to the ascension in popularity of Gill's writings on transference in the here and now, Spence's on narrative and historical truth, and Schafer's on multiple historical scenarios. Blum counters with the continuing emphasis on developmental thought, on trauma and its reconstruction, and argues that the current one-sided emphasis on transference fails to give appropriate attention to its genetic roots. Elegantly and convincingly, he states a case for the importance of an updated version of reconstruction in clinical work.

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