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Rudnytsky, P.L. (2007). International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis. Edited by Alain de Mijolla. 3 vols. Detroit: Thomson Gale, 2005, cxxxvii+2196 pp., $395.00.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 55(1):371-379.

(2007). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 55(1):371-379

Reference

International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis. Edited by Alain de Mijolla. 3 vols. Detroit: Thomson Gale, 2005, cxxxvii+2196 pp., $395.00.

Review by:
Peter L. Rudnytsky

Dr. Johnson is famously quoted by Boswell as saying, “Sir, a woman's preaching is like a dog's walking on his hinder legs. It is not done well, but you are surprised to find it done at all” (1791, p. 327). Concerning the monumental enterprise under review, one might adapt the great critic's politically incorrect witticism and observe that one is surprised not only that it has been done at all, but that it has been done so well.

For let there be no mistake: Alain de Mijolla's three-volume International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis, originally published in French in 2002 and now available in an “enhanced” English version, is a heroic achievement, one that should be celebrated by everyone who lives and breathes psychoanalysis.

As de Mijolla would doubtless be the first to acknowledge, the Dictionary is a collective work. Aided in France by Sophie de Mijolla— Mellor, Roger Perron, and Bernard Golse, and with Edward Nersessian and the late Paul Roazen as his U.S. advisors, de Mijolla enlisted a total of 463 authors for 1,569 signed entries; the English edition includes an honor roll of twelve translators. The fruit of these immense labors is a veritable cornucopia, a garden of delights, with entries on almost every conceivable topic pertaining to analysis elastically defined. The thematic outline classifies these under the rubrics Concepts, Biographies, Works, and History (subdivided into Countries, Case Histories, Events, Psychoanalysis and Other Disciplines, and Organizations and Institutions).

Perhaps the highest compliment I can pay the Dictionary is to say that reading it induces a state of reverie. One turns the pages in rapt anticipation of the next surprise that lies in store, or one sets off in hot pursuit of a quarry. Having just used the word reverie, for example, I looked it up.

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