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Rhode, E. (1989). The Apprehension of Beauty. The Role of Aesthetic Conflict in Development, Violence and Art by Donald Meltzer and Meg Harris Williams. Published by The Clunie Press 1988; 240 pp.; £18.00 hardback.. Brit. J. Psychother., 5(4):596-598.

(1989). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 5(4):596-598

The Apprehension of Beauty. The Role of Aesthetic Conflict in Development, Violence and Art by Donald Meltzer and Meg Harris Williams. Published by The Clunie Press 1988; 240 pp.; £18.00 hardback.

Review by:
Eric Rhode

The authors assert: ‘Melanie Klein was wrong to assume that the paranoid-schizoid position in object relations was anterior to the depressive position’. Why so? Because the issue of immaturity, which she raises, and the issue of the primitive are relatable to each other - if relatable - in ways she did not explore (and which, tantalisingly, this book also leaves unexplored). More importantly, because her chronology in development entails ‘a tragic view of the depressive position, a relic of the Romantic Agony which plays such a role in Freud's thought about the Oedipus Complex. It (the tragic view) stands human values on its head, looking back at the relinquished object instead of forward to development and the possibility of an enriched object which the very relinquishment makes attainable’.

In other words, the authors centre psychic life on the depressive position. Paranoid-schizoid phenomena - which the authors think more usefully described in terms of Bion's theory of failure in alpha function - can be compared in their marginality (and in a Platonic manner) to the closing down of ‘perceptual apertures against the dazzle of the sunrise’. Such a closing down reduces the dimensionality possible in symbolism to the flatness of codes and signs.

The

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