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Meissner, W.W. (1998). Soul on the Couch: Spirituality, Religion, and Morality in Contemporary Psychoanalysis. Edited by Charles Spezzano and Gerald J. Gargiulo. Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press, 1997., 312 pp., $45.00. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 46(4):1307-1310.

(1998). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 46(4):1307-1310

Soul on the Couch: Spirituality, Religion, and Morality in Contemporary Psychoanalysis. Edited by Charles Spezzano and Gerald J. Gargiulo. Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press, 1997., 312 pp., $45.00

Review by:
W. W. Meissner, S.J.

The literature of psychoanalysis has been enriched in recent years by a burgeoning of studies addressing matters pertaining to the higher aspects of human nature—matters ethical, religious, and spiritual. The present volume continues this trend, offering us a spate of quite disparate essays on aspects of religious and moral experience. In this regard, the title is somewhat misleading—the theoretical orientation throughout is self psychological and pervasively relational. “Contemporary psychoanalysis” should be understood here to embrace self psychology and the attempt to translate the whole of the analytic canon into relational terms, but in fact there is more to analysis than this renovating and transformative paradigm would allow.

Gargiulo fires an opening salvo against the presumably pernicious concept of an autonomous self, particularly its classic elevation into a therapeutic ideal.

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