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Haartman, K. (2003). Healing the Soul in the Age of the Brain: Becoming Conscious in an Unconscious World Elio Frattaroli Toronto: Viking Press, 2001, 454 pp.. Canadian J. Psychoanal., 11(2):548-555.
    

(2003). Canadian Journal of Psychoanalysis, 11(2):548-555

Healing the Soul in the Age of the Brain: Becoming Conscious in an Unconscious World Elio Frattaroli Toronto: Viking Press, 2001, 454 pp.

Review by:
Keith Haartman

Elio Frattaroli's Healing the Soul in the Age of the Brain, an important book with much to recommend it, offers a bold and playful rereading of classical psychoanalysis. While adhering to basic Freudian notions—defence, resistance, transference, the Oedipus complex—Frattaroli transcends the drive-based hedonism of Freudian metapsychology by introducing something more into the equation. Conflicts over opposing needs and wishes clamour for a solution and Frattaroli points to an unconscious intelligence, a psychic prime-mover, that orchestrates symptoms in the service of greater autonomy, emotional growth, and moral awareness.

In steering psychoanalysis back towards the unmined implications of Freud's eros, Frattaroli envisages mental states that lie at the far edge of the neuroses and come into being after the decline of the symptom. Freud's widely quoted dictum that “common unhappiness” is the reward of a successful treatment obscures the less cynical benefits of analysis described in his paper Civilization and Its Discontents, that is, the greater capacity to find satisfaction in both love and work. Frattaroli, however, points to an even richer bounty, to what he calls “self-actualization”: “a condition of free will in which I am able to choose, to direct my life according to my own authentically personal ideals and values, acting from the spiritual centre of my self-reflective moral consciousness” (p. 317).

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