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Bernstein, P.P. (1990). Masochism: Current Psychoanalytic Perspectives: Edited by Robert A. Glick and Donald I. Meyers. Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press. 1988. Pp. 238.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 71:182-184.

(1990). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 71:182-184

Masochism: Current Psychoanalytic Perspectives: Edited by Robert A. Glick and Donald I. Meyers. Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press. 1988. Pp. 238.

Review by:
Paula P. Bernstein

Hats off to Drs Glick and Meyers for having honed this volume on contemporary views of masochism into an eminently readable and incisive presentation. They lead off in their 'Introduction' with a historical review. Taking us back to Venus in Furs, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's 1870 novel about a man's willing submission to enslavement, humiliation, cruelty, and physical and psychological abuse, they trace the development of key ideas about Masoch-ism from Freud to the present. They show how 'psychoanalytic interest in masochism dates from the earliest days of psychoanalysis, [and] how the various approaches to its understanding have reflected the developmental vicissitudes of psychoanalytic theory as it moved from its early focus on instinct to considerations of psychic structure and oedipal dynamics, object relations, separation-individuation, self-organization, and self-esteem regulation and as it progressed into more systematic investigation of child development' (p. 1). This is their guiding perspective, and once the reader is armed with it, what might have seemed a rather uneven collection of eleven papers, written by a distinguished but highly diverse group of analysts, becomes a coherent and an exceedingly rich explication of masochism from complementary psycho-analytic points of view.

Robert S. Liebert's paper, 'The concept of character: An historical review', launches an inquiry into the nature of masochism as a 'controlling, adaptive organization'. His panoramic review scans the contributions of Freud, Reich, Anna Freud, Fenichel, Hartmann, Kris and Loewenstein, Kardiner, Erikson, Sullivan, the British object-relations school, Kohut, and Lacan, focusing on what each theorist added to our picture of the nature and function of character and to our notion of how it is created by the individual in the context of object relations and within a particular culture.

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