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Spielman, R. (1997). Subjects Of Analysis. By Thomas H. Ogden. New Jersey: Aronson, 1994, 230 pp., $40.00.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 45:1343-1346.
(1997). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 45:1343-1346
Subjects Of Analysis. By Thomas H. Ogden. New Jersey: Aronson, 1994, 230 pp., $40.00.
Review by: Ron Spielman
How does one review a book that begins with the sentences “It is too late to turn back. Having read the opening words of this book you have already begun to enter into the unsettling experience of finding yourself becoming a subject whom you have not met, but nonetheless recognize”?
This review must, I think, be understood as the expression of a unique experience: that of a subject (myself) being engaged by Ogden (himself, as I imagine him), the subject behind the material “black markings and surrounding white spaces” that comprise the text. You, dear reader of this review, are in turn strongly urged to have this experience for yourself.
Ogden's compelling opening forces the reader, from the outset, to enter the book's frame of reference: that any engagement between two subjects in a dyadic relationship brings about the creation of a third “subject.” Although other authors (both within and without psychoanalysis) have written of this phenomenon, it is Ogden who has termed this the creation of the “analytic third.”
Subjects of Analysis is about subjectivity and intersubjectivity, and the implicit dialectical tensions that underlie psychoanalytic conceptions of mental function. By the very title he has chosen, he cleverly introduces, from the first contact with potential readers, a subtle ambiguity of expectation. Just consider the ordinary usage of the words subject and object and try to decide whether Ogden means by subjects of analysis “the subjects who participate in the analytic process” or “the objects which are ‘subjected to’ analytic scrutiny.” I think the dialectical interdependence of these complex notions is the very problem he wants his reader to grapple with.
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