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Gillespie, W. (1987). The Analytic Experience: Lectures from the Tavistock by Neville Symington. Published by Free Association Books: London 1986; 347 pp; £9.95 paperback; £22.50 hardback.. Brit. J. Psychother., 3(4):384-385.

(1987). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 3(4):384-385

Book Reviews

The Analytic Experience: Lectures from the Tavistock by Neville Symington. Published by Free Association Books: London 1986; 347 pp; £9.95 paperback; £22.50 hardback.

Review by:
William Gillespie

Reviewing this book has been a pleasure. It is based on the lectures given by the author to mental health professionals at the Tavistock Centre over a period of seven years. The introduction makes clear his unique personal approach to the problem of outlining the nature of psychoanalysis; in particular he stresses its devotion to truth and the fact that it consists in the relationship between two people.

Following this the next eleven chapters deal with Freud's discoveries and with his dual approach to mental problems - evolutionist and physicalistic on the one hand, but romantic and psychological on the other. Far from deploring this marriage Symington extols it. Two chapters are devoted to dreams. In discussing Freud's work he points out that Freud's recognition of traumatic dreams damaged the wish-fulfilment theory that had dominated his thinking - indeed Symington suggests that this was an idee fixe of Freud. Dream research associated with the REM phenomenon has led to a reappraisal of the function of dreaming, and varioud modern theories are briefly discussed.

After a chapter on transference the author proceeds to an interesting discussion of Freud's instinct (or drive) theories. He properly distinguishes Freud's biological death instinct concept from Klein's psychological one. The death drive in Freud's sense really does have the aim to restore a former (inanimate) state of affairs, but the same cannot be said of Eros whose aim is life; Eros and Thanatos belong to different categories and should not be classed together (in Freud's manner) as instincts or drives.

[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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