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Lidmila, A. (1986). Changing Our Interpretations: Politics and Psychotherapy: The Politics of Mental Health by R. Banton, P. Clifford, S. Frosh, J. Lousada and J. Rosenthall. Published by Macmillan, 1985; 202 pp; £6.95 paperback.Personality and Ideology: towards a materialist understanding of the individual by Peter Leonard. Published by Macmillan, 1985; 228 pp; £5.95 paperback.. Brit. J. Psychother., 3(2):172-182.

(1986). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 3(2):172-182

Book Reviews

Changing Our Interpretations: Politics and Psychotherapy: The Politics of Mental Health by R. Banton, P. Clifford, S. Frosh, J. Lousada and J. Rosenthall. Published by Macmillan, 1985; 202 pp; £6.95 paperback.Personality and Ideology: towards a materialist understanding of the individual by Peter Leonard. Published by Macmillan, 1985; 228 pp; £5.95 paperback.

Review by:
Alan Lidmila

The philosophers have only interpreted the world in different ways; the point is to change it.

(Bottomore & Rubel 1961)

If we substitute psychotherapy or psychoanalysis for philosophy is this an adequate summary of the therapeutic project or is there, as the writers under review suggest, a viable alternative?

The above volumes have much in common and share an infrastructure on various levels. As well as representing attempts to explore the vexed relationship between the psychological and the political world as experienced and as theorised, the writer of one book is also the editor of a series (Critical Texts in Social Work and the Welfare State, General Editor Peter Leonard) of which The Politics of Mental Health is a companion work. Both books share one basic assumption, namely the necessity for transforming social relations for all not merely those who may be suffering more obviously. In order for change to take place it is equally necessary to replace bourgeois theory in any given discipline area with a critical social theory that may in turn inform and guide a practice (in social work, psychology or psychiatry and any related endeavour) in a truly humane and ‘progressive’ direction. In Leonard's terms the central issue of how individuals are constructed under certain historical conditions is a ‘problem of being unable to produce a biographical account of a specific individual from within Marxist categories’ (Leonard 1985, p. 5). He notes that this problem has either been avoided (as in those models consigned to the dustbin of bourgeois psychology) or has been faced unsuccessfully (as in Sartre's union of materialism and existentialism).

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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