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Kohon, G. (1985). Objects Are Not People. Free Associations, 1C(2):19-30.

(1985). Free Associations, 1C(2):19-30

Objects Are Not People

Gregorio Kohon

Object Relations in Psychoanalytic Theory, by Jay R. Greenberg and Stephen A. Mitchell, Cambridge and London, Harvard University Press, 1983, Pp. x+437 £21.25.

In 1931, a Spanish psychiatrist, Dr. Arteaga, making sceptical reference to the science of psychoanalysis, wrote: ‘This doctrine, the originality of which is excessive’ (quoted in Garcia, 128 — author's italics). Psychoanalysis has always been a literature of excess: it certainly meant a departure from custom and reason; it systematically overstepped acceptable scientific limits; it courageously went beyond the prescribed authorities of modern thought. Spain, a country where poets could write that ‘to live is to be alone with death’ (Luis Cernuda), did not know what to do with this excess of originality. The Spaniards had enough with the oncoming Civil War and its own excess. Then, they had Franco. Like the return of the repressed, psychoanalysis has only come back today to the Spaniards through the invasion of immigrant professionals from their former colonies in South America.

In contrast to Spain, the excesses of an immigrant psychoanalysis flourished and did very well in a country of moderation and restraint: Great Britain. As early as 1913, the first Psycho-Analytical Society was founded by Ernest Jones and a handful of colleagues. Today, the existence of a ‘British school’ of psychoanalysis is acknowledged all over the world, and is characterized by a specific development of psychoanalytic theory, that of Object Relations. Greenberg and Mitchell describe the ‘British school’ in the most insightful way: ‘The authors we considered … do not constitute a ‘school’ by virtue of subscribing to a set of shared beliefs, but, like a school of painters, by

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