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Freke, S. (2007). The Unsung Psychoanalyst: The Quiet Influence of Ruth Easser Mary Kay O'Neil Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004, 250 pp. Canadian J. Psychoanal., 15(2):357-359.

(2007). Canadian Journal of Psychoanalysis, 15(2):357-359

The Unsung Psychoanalyst: The Quiet Influence of Ruth Easser Mary Kay O'Neil Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004, 250 pp

Review by:
Sarah Freke

Mary Kay O'Neil's first book, The Unsung Psychoanalyst: The Quiet Influence of Ruth Easser, is a tour de force. For those of us who did not know Easser, it creates the immediacy of a wish to have known her, and part of the beauty of the book is that deepening throughout there comes to be a behind-the-print “almost” way that one does. O'Neil has extended this quiet influence beyond Easser's death to those whose lives she didn't touch in life, as well as enhancing it in those whose lives she did. Woven around and inside this lovely thick description of a person is incisive thought about different aspects of the theory and practice of psychoanalysis, its training and teaching, its societies and culture. There is thoughtful discussion of the forces at play during different aspects of psychoanalytic training and treatment, with the position required to optimally enable an analytic process always kept at stake. When O'Neil discusses the content and the context of Easser's theoretical writing and formal presentations, she extends the grasp of ideas that are still fresh at the cutting edge of psychoanalytic theory today.

The use of interviews, particularly in the early chapters, is highly effective. We experience Easser's presence in the words of so many recognized colleagues who chose to respond to O'Neil's request to speak about her. There are quotes from interviews with colleagues, patients, candidates, and friends. They share anecdotes, describe memories of professional

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