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Clarke, S. (2002). Psychoanalysis: A Critical Introduction by Ian Craib. Polity Press, London. x237. ISBN 0-7456-1979-7.. Free Associations, 9(3):479-482.

(2002). Free Associations, 9(3):479-482

Psychoanalysis: A Critical Introduction by Ian Craib. Polity Press, London. x237. ISBN 0-7456-1979-7.

Review by:
Simon Clarke

In the preface to Psychoanalysis: A Critical Introduction Ian Craib states that there are two strong intentions behind the writing of this book. The first is to present psychoanalytic theory as a body of ideas with multi-faceted relationships to each other and the human psyche that is their object. The second is to show that there are limits to theory, an idea Craib argues that is not new in the psychoanalytic world, but often easily forgotten or denied in the academic world.

In this introductory text, Craib notes that there has been a certain ambivalence to psychoanalytic ideas, not only from psychologists, but also from other professionals and academics. Freud and psychoanalysis, for Craib, are equal only to Marx and Marxism in ‘the ability to attract personal abuse and wholesale, often ranting, dismissals’ (p. 1). The point that Craib is introducing to the reader is that someone such as Freud who attracts such attention over such a sustained period of time cannot be entirely wrong. Indeed, psychoanalysis embodies some of the most powerful ideas to emerge in the twentieth century. In addition, psychoanalytic ideas have been used productively in both the social sciences and arts, and ideas about the unconscious mind have been assimilated into popular culture. It is not unusual to hear in everyday conversation someone refer to a Freudian slip, talk about projection, or even refer to their unconscious mind. Craib also notes that there has been a huge growth in university centres for psychoanalytic studies which cut across traditional disciplinary boundaries. Psychoanalysis: A Critical Introduction is for Craib, a product of these developments.

The position in which Craib situates this book is between the literature on psychoanalytic therapies and practice and academic theory, in other words, the tension between theory and practice.

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