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Wilson, M. (2013). Finding Oneself in a Sentence: Donald Moss and Psychoanalytic Sincerity: Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Man: Psychoanalysis and Masculinity By Donald Moss London: Routledge, 176 pp., $40.95, 2012. DIVISION/Rev., 8:23-26.

(2013). DIVISION/Review, 8:23-26

Finding Oneself in a Sentence: Donald Moss and Psychoanalytic Sincerity: Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Man: Psychoanalysis and Masculinity By Donald Moss London: Routledge, 176 pp., $40.95, 2012

Review by:
Mitchell Wilson

One does not simply “read” Donald Moss; one encounters him or, better, is confronted by him. I cannot think of another contemporary psychoanalytic writer about whom this can be said. Moss's thinking is unusual, his voice immediately arresting, and his ethical commitments always a cause for self-questioning. This encounter, or confrontation, is, for the reader, a moment of some emotional seriousness. Moss tackles topics that involve human suffering, alienation, and the ongoing perpetration of divisional practices including, most importantly, the origins, forms, and effects of hatred. While sometimes funny in a backhanded manner, and occasionally upendingly ironic, Moss tackles these issues with a crystalline intellectual rigor, the sustenance of which is drawn from his capacious empathy for the alienated, persecuted other. Even at his most intellectually rigorous, the seemingly arid Moss is in fact driven to think by extreme emotional disquiet.

I first encountered Moss when I was a psychoanalytic candidate, in a class on psychoanalytic technique. The paper was “Pseudo-quotes in Psychoanalytic Interventions,” published in 1986. A pseudo-quote is when the analyst, in a putative act of the imagination, speaks both for and to the patient in the patient's “voice,” as if finishing the patient's thought, or giving expression to what might seem to be, for the patient, otherwise inexpressible. Moss had been doing research, with Hartvig Dahl, on the linguistic details of analyst-patient interactions within a clinical hour.

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