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Prall, W. (2014). Between Skins: The Body in Psychoanalysis - Contemporary Developments by Nicola Diamond. Published by Wiley Blackwell, Chichester, 2013; 288 pp; £60 hardback. Brit. J. Psychother., 30(2):275-278.

(2014). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 30(2):275-278

Between Skins: The Body in Psychoanalysis - Contemporary Developments by Nicola Diamond. Published by Wiley Blackwell, Chichester, 2013; 288 pp; £60 hardback

Review by:
Werner Prall

‘Where is the mind?’ Sartre wanted to know. ‘Why, in the body, of course’ is one available answer to this question. William James thought it is in the ‘small corners of physical nature our bodies occupy’ that the mind is located. Wittgenstein would have agreed: if you want an image of the soul, look at the body, he said. If this downright materialism is suspect to some, it finds support from a perhaps surprising angle: Thomas Aquinas, the Christian saint, who taught that the soul permeated the body giving it its unique form of life. If the body is alive it is animated by its soul, thus manifesting its particular way of being. Contra Descartes, no dualism in this sort of answer.

We can ask, with Sartre, where is the mind; but equally we can ask, where is the body? Psychoanalysis has two kinds of answers to these questions, and they are — notwithstanding all manner of controversy — only apparently mutually exclusive. On the one hand, the mind is in/of the body (mind as epiphenomenon of the brain; phantasy as the mental precipitate of the drives; everything starting with ‘neuro-’, etc.); on the other, the body is in the mind (the subjectively experienced, mentally represented, interpersonally or socially constructed, linguistically captured body).

The body we can speak of is only ever the spoken body, the body of language. To speak of one's own body, to speak of oneself as a bodily being is to take the body as an object of the mind, by the same token instituting a division in the mind between oneself as subject and object, between thought and ‘flesh’.

[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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