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Diamond, N. (2015). The Couch in the Market Place: Psychoanalysis and Social Reality by H. Shmuel Erlich. Published by Karnac Books, London, 2013; 200 pp; £22.99 paperback, £16.09 e book. Brit. J. Psychother., 31(1):136-139.

(2015). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 31(1):136-139

Book Reviews

The Couch in the Market Place: Psychoanalysis and Social Reality by H. Shmuel Erlich. Published by Karnac Books, London, 2013; 200 pp; £22.99 paperback, £16.09 e book

Review by:
Nicola Diamond

This book is about the way psychoanalysis and its understanding of psychic life is distinctive but inseparable from the interpersonal and social sphere. Not only is the relationship between the social world and psychic life an important area to conceptualize and explore, but the existence of this interrelationship can draw attention to the limited horizons propagated by forms of psychoanalytic thinking.

Shmuel Erlich's book is a contribution towards expansion in frame, so that psychoanalysis as a discipline can be freer to engage in relational social fields of thought, take on more social political and worldly concerns as its focus, and challenge restrictions as to its considered areas of interest and relevance.

As the book proceeds, it becomes increasingly apparent that there is a fascination with thinking and living on the border zone, which encompasses consideration of psychoanalysis as a frontier discipline, its interface with other disciplines, and with understanding ‘the other side’, the ‘enemy’ or the mind of the ‘terrorist’. As destructiveness becomes the focus, it dawns on the reader that the book is concerned with a border straddled across a potential war zone. This is no surprise since Shmuel Erlich is a practising Jewish psychoanalyst living on the border of Israel and Arab states.

The book is a compilation of different papers which makes for a varied read, but there is a continuity of themes throughout. Shmuel Erlich is open to social forms of explanation, showing how cultural beliefs can shape thought and action, whilst also retaining a specificity to his psychoanalytic stance.

[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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