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Goldman, D. (1998). Handling the Metaphor of “Holding”: A Review of Holding and Psychoanalysis: A Relational Perspective by Joyce Slochower. Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press, 1996. 194 pp.. Contemp. Psychoanal., 34(4):645-658.

(1998). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 34(4):645-658

Handling the Metaphor of “Holding”: A Review of Holding and Psychoanalysis: A Relational Perspective by Joyce Slochower. Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press, 1996. 194 pp.

Review by:
Dodi Goldman, Ph.D.

D.W. Winnicott often relied on metaphors to capture his intuitive sense of mutual relationships. Many analysts—especially when faced with patients who appear unprepared readily to form collaborative alliances dedicated to self-understanding—find these metaphors enormously appealing. The danger of such appeal, however, particularly within our commercial culture, is that Winnicott's metaphors can become quickly fashionable—a cheap intellectual currency, so to speak—and the complex substance of his ideas subsequently lost. Ours is an era with potent anti-intellectual trends. Winnicott's style—deceptively simple, compressed, intuitive, and evocative—at times creates the mistaken illusion that he is readily understood. Therefore, he can easily be idealized or poeticized beyond recognition. No doubt, he would have found such sentimentality quite repugnant, in that it entails a denial of unconscious reservoirs of cruder emotions. This is one of the paradoxes of Winnicott's legacy: the deceptive appeal of his ideas clouds the depth and precision of his thought. Many of his inventive ideas are sometimes flagrantly misappropriated. Yet Winnicott would have preferred people creatively transforming his ideas, using them for their own needs, rather than adhering to them as a new orthodoxy.

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