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Bion, W.R. (1966). Medical Orthodoxy and the Future of Psycho-Analysis: By K. R. Eissler. (New York: Int. Univ. Press, 1965.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 47:575-579.

(1966). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 47:575-579

Medical Orthodoxy and the Future of Psycho-Analysis: By K. R. Eissler. (New York: Int. Univ. Press, 1965.)

Review by:
W. R. Bion

Questions of importance for psycho-analysts have been debated in this able book by Eissler. The subject may seem to British readers not to concern them; a great deal of hard-hitting criticism is directed against American institutes of psycho-analysis, American failings (in the author's view) and American psycho-analytic 'heresies'. Ostensibly he is arguing in favour of the lay analyst, which again may appear to a British psycho-analyst to be a subject no longer for debate, but which to me appears only to be one facet of the problem of the relationship between group and mystic which has now become vital for the psycho-analytic group. On an adequate solution of this the future of psycho-analysis hangs and the adequate solution demands as a prerequisite adequate debate. This is not possible unless psycho-analysts are prepared to spend time studying the history and dynamics of the relationship between the mystic and the group. Eissler's book should be read against the background of this seldom and inadequately discussed phenomenon. The central point is the impact of an explosive force on a pre-existing framework. This configuration is recurrent and can be detected in the impact of new ideas on an old vocabulary, formula, or deductive system, or of the genius, mystic, or messiah upon the group in which his presence becomes manifest.

The group and mystic are essential to each other: it is therefore important to consider how or why the group can destroy the mystic on whom its future depends and how or why the mystic may destroy the group.

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