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King, M.V. (1990). The Primitive Role of Experience: By Thomas H. Ogden, M. D. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, Inc., 1989. Pp. 256.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 71:733-735.

(1990). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 71:733-735

The Primitive Role of Experience: By Thomas H. Ogden, M. D. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, Inc., 1989. Pp. 256.

Review by:
Monique V. King

Reading this book left me feeling that I had come across one of those rare works which induce us to rethink, in an unaccustomed way, our ideas about mental functioning and the analytic process. Its gentle and unpretentious style leads you by the hand through an array of English and French analytic works which are less familiar to the American reader, such as Klein, Bion, Bollas, Bick, Meltzer, Fairbairn, Tustin and Winnicott, on to Anzieu, Green, McDougall, Chasseguet-Smirgel and, finally, Lacan. This is added to many American writers who are much more familiar.

Ogden achieves his own synthesis of many schools of thought—a task which he had begun in his previous book, The Matrix of the Mind(1986). He effectively accomplishes the task by clarifying some difficult ideas, and then taking from each author the theoretical material which fits analytic clinical experience and infant observations, without asking for a leap of faith. He does it without recourse to thinking of the oedipal conflict in the first year of life, or without recourse to object-seeking as a substitute motivation for drive theory, and without resorting to the abstruse style which makes French writers such as Lacan an object of anathema to the busy reader. In fact, he manages to clarify some Lacanian ideas (in particular the theme of 'The Other' and its role in the separation-individuation and the oedipal phases) and integrates them into his own concepts in a way which makes great clinical sense.

He introduces some new ideas which he fully illustrates with clinical material.

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