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Mitchell, S.A. Black, M. (1998). Mitchell and Black Fault a Review. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 46(3):991-995.

(1998). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 46(3):991-995

Mitchell and Black Fault a Review

Stephen A. Mitchell and Margaret Black

September 10, 1997. We are writing to object to Frank Summers's review of our Freud and Beyond: A History of Modern Psychoanalytic Thought (JAPA 45/2). We object to the review's substantive misrepresentations, to its ex cathedra tone of pedantic and patronizing authority, and most pointedly to the presumptuous air with which it condescends to instruct us on some of the most basic and fundamental tenets of psychoanalytic theory. This kind of writing represents a return to the worst of traditional forms of psychoanalytic disparagement of dissenting voices. We also call into question the editorial decision made by JAPA to appoint the author of a competing text as reviewer of our book, without at the very least making such a potentially prejudicial conflict of interest apparent to the reader from the very beginning. Those who have read Freud and Beyond before reading the review can judge for themselves. However, there are certain to be readers of the review who have not read the book, and it is to them that we address this brief rejoinder. Summers's review pulls so many sentence fragments unrecognizably out of context and distorts and misrepresents so many of our ideas that a thorough, point-by-point response would be tedious. In what follows we answer several of his charges in an attempt to highlight the intellectual irresponsibility and mean-spiritedness with which this review was constructed.

The aim of our book is to introduce psychoanalytic concepts to readers unfamiliar with these ideas, to “clinicians who have not undergone years of formal study,” and to “any interested reader” outside the field (p. xxi). We clearly describe our intention in this text as aiming not to be comprehensive or to provide “a full and detailed tracing … of sequences and progressions,” but rather to capture “the experiential kernel” (p. xxii) of theoretical concepts. Let us consider what Summers considers our most “egregious” errors and misrepresentations, “shoddy” content, and “careless” scholarship.

We did not describe Studies on Hysteria as “a work on hypnoanalysis.” The focus of the beginning section of the chapter on Freud and the development of psychoanalysis out of his work with Breuer, was on the case of Anna O.

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