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MacVicar, K. (2010). Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow by Hanna Segal, London and New York, Routledge, 2007; 280 pp.. Fort Da, 16(2):84-86.

(2010). Fort Da, 16(2):84-86

Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow by Hanna Segal, London and New York, Routledge, 2007; 280 pp.

Reviewed by
Katherine MacVicar, M.D.

In this compilation of her recent work, Dr. Hanna Segal discusses the building up of psychoanalytic thought through Freud and Klein, and then the contributions of Rosenfeld, Bion, and herself. She proceeds to look at the position we are in today and to comment on the future of psychoanalysis. Clinically rich with wonderful examples, the papers are all engaging, with complex issues clearly discussed. They are a delight to read.

In the first of her recent papers, “Interpretation of Dreams — 100 Years On,” she looks at the evolution of our clinical theory of dreaming over 100 years. She feels that dream work is a reparative endeavor in the internal world, attempting to restore destroyed objects and aspects of the self, an undertaking that is frequently attacked by psychotic processes. Dreams from the psychotic part of the personality can only be expelled and this affects both the dream and the way it is brought to the hour. Increasingly we look at the manner in which the dream is presented and not just the content of the dream; that is, we analyze the dreamer, not only the dream. It is our understanding and interpretation of the psychotic parts of the patient that particularly interest Dr. Segal throughout this book.

In the paper entitled “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow,” she again takes up the importance of psychotic processes and our ability to contain and interpret them, particularly using Bion's work and her own regarding the psychotic's inability to form symbols. She emphasizes that Freud's pleasure principle is not just a libidinal search for pleasure but a principle of omnipotence imbued with a hatred of reality; it is this that the psychotic patient brings us. She follows up in the paper on “Vision” with a distinction between the kind of vision that embodies openness and curiosity about the way things work, and the more primitive kind that seeks to use the eyes to get inside the object and take over, control, or destroy it. A repeated theme of the papers is that the future growth of psychoanalysis is directly connected to our ability to interpret fully these primitive processes.

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