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Robbins, M. (1997). Delusions Of Everyday Life. By Leonard Shengold. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995, 221 pp., $27.50.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 45:1005-1010.

(1997). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 45:1005-1010

Delusions Of Everyday Life. By Leonard Shengold. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995, 221 pp., $27.50.

Review by:
Michael Robbins

Leonard Shengold has once again succeeded in making psychoanalysis come alive for a broad spectrum of readers, ranging from analytic colleagues to interested laypeople. His intention in his latest book, Delusions of Everyday Life, is to supplement Freud's classic list of commonplace psychopathologies. The book is about the power of archaic unconscious processes from early childhood to generate fixed, repetitive, archaic patterns of adult thinking and behaving that he calls “delusions.” He tells us that delusions “furnish much of the power for the more persistent and effective resistances to change in life and in psychoanalysis. … [They] are attempts to preserve narcissistic attributes of fixity and changelessness: no passage of time, no death, no separations, no losses—having everything and being parented forever.” The book consists of seven chapters, four of them previously published, on such subjects as envy, paranoid thinking, perversions, narcissism, “owning” or taking responsibility for one's mental contents, and psychobiography (the novelist Samuel Butler). In addition to examples from his clinical practice, Shengold has mined his wide-ranging knowledge of literature (Swift, Shakespeare, Dickens, and Tolstoy in addition to Butler), biography, art, mythology, and history to illustrate his thesis.

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