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Twyman, M. (1998). H.J.S. Guntrip: a Psychoanalytical Biography. By Jeremy Hazell. New York: New York University Press/London: Free Association Books, 1996, 356 pp., $60.00 hardcover, $22.50 softcover. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 46(2):598-600.
(1998). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 46(2):598-600
H.J.S. Guntrip: a Psychoanalytical Biography. By Jeremy Hazell. New York: New York University Press/London: Free Association Books, 1996, 356 pp., $60.00 hardcover, $22.50 softcover
Review by: Marry Twyman
This is an extraordinarily fascinating book. What Jeremy Hazell has achieved is a skillfully woven and elucidating account of the life, work, and analytic experience of a man, himself a therapist, who was also a considerable contributor to the theory of object relations in Britain.
Harry Guntrip had remarkable recall and kept—quite relentlessly one might say, but usefully for his biographer and for us—a detailed account of his analytic sessions with two distinguished analysts. What is perhaps most revealing of all is the account he kept of his dreams—before, during, and after his analyses.
Guntrip came from a nonconformist religious background, became himself a Congregational minister, and through “pastoral therapy” made his way toward psychoanalysis. He undertook, from his geographical midpoint in Leeds (where he held a position in the university's department of psychiatry), first an analysis with Ronald Fairbairn in Edinburgh and then a second analysis, with Donald Winnicott, in London. After Guntrip's death in 1975, the International Review of Psycho-Analysis published his paper, “My Experiences of Analysis with Fairbairn and Winnicott.” The paper has recently been republished in the International Journal of Psycho-Analysis (1996, vol. 77), accompanied by two excellent papers by John Padel and Ronald Markillie, analysts who knew Guntrip and his work well.
These would make a valuable adjunct to a reading of Hazell's book. Guntrip included in his paper an account of what he considered to be an analytic breakthrough that occurred in the period of his mourning the death of Winnicott, represented by a period of physical illness and a series of dreams. Those who heard Guntrip give this paper will testify to the powerful impact it exerted on its audience. The psychoanalytic community has reason to be grateful to Hazell for what he has accomplished in this biography, which follows upon his edited work, Personal Relations Theory: The Collected Papers of H.J.S. Guntrip (Aronson, 1994). Together the two volumes constitute a labor of love and provide us a vivid picture of the man, his therapeutic work, the development of his ideas, and the astonishing persistence and drive involved in his psychic self-observation.
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