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Aird, E. (2004). Review of Patterns: Building Blocks of Experience. Marilyn Charles, The Analytic Press, 2002. Free Associations, 11(3):457-459.

(2004). Free Associations, 11(3):457-459

Review of Patterns: Building Blocks of Experience. Marilyn Charles, The Analytic Press, 2002

Review by:
Eileen Aird

Marilyn Charles is a practising psychoanalyst, a poet, and an artist, and she brings her knowledge to bear with authority and grace in this far-reaching and quietly authoritative book. Four chapters review and extend psychoanalytic theory in the light of recent developments in attachment theory from both a theoretical and a clinical perspective, while the final two chapters provide an exploration of creativity and patterns in the visual arts and in the poetry of twentieth century women poets, particularly Sylvia Plath and Adrienne Rich. Her thesis that ‘Pattern is a fundamental and essential aspect of being’ is illustrated throughout by particularly subtle and detailed accounts of shifts within the patient's inner world through the attunement of the therapist. She deals very finely with the complexities of thought, feeling, memory, illness, and desire brought into all consulting rooms, and with the analyst's need to be aware not only of conscious and unconscious but also of bodily communication. Therapy is seen as a way of helping us to understand the metaphors of our experience by understanding the patterns that consciously, unconsciously, and initially within sensory and bodily communication, define our being in the world.

Words are the medium of understanding but the whole experience of analysis and therapy is seen by Marilyn Charles as much wider than that which emerges finally in words.

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