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Wilson, J.H. (1987). Psychoanalysis: The Possible Profession edited by Herbert S. Stream. Published by The Haworth Press Inc. 1986; 102 pages; $22.95.. Brit. J. Psychother., 4(1):111-112.

(1987). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 4(1):111-112

Psychoanalysis: The Possible Profession edited by Herbert S. Stream. Published by The Haworth Press Inc. 1986; 102 pages; $22.95.

Review by:
J. H. Wilson

Progress in psychoanalysis is an uncertain business. This book, which is a collection of articles on current trends in psychoanalysis, illustrates some of the problems well. However the attempt is worthwhile if only to promote thought in an important area.

The articles are mixed both in style, content and quality. I decided to review a number individually as well as comment on the book as a whole.

The introduction and first article is a polemic in favour of psychoanalysis. The authors wish to redress the balance of a number of books which they feel have given psychoanalysis a bad press. These include The Impossible Profession by Janet Malcolm and The Foundation of Psychoanalysis by Adolf Gruenbaum. The arguments and counter-arguments are difficult to follow and the value of the exercise in furthering psychoanalytic thought is uncertain. The use of interpretations as a way of countering psychoanalytic critics is a particularly doubtful process. Thus to suggest that the wish for a perfect mother underlies much of the criticism of psychoanalysis may possibly be true. However it is open to the counter-argument that psychoanalysts meet every criticism with an interpretation such that everything agrees with their view and so is not falsifiable.

The next article is on the topic of transference. To state that ‘All in all, the contributions to the study of transference after Freud have not led to any fundamental advance in his views’ needs to be challenged. I would have expected reference to Melanie Klein and an object relations view on transference.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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