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Temperley, J. (1993). The Good Society and the Inner World: Psychoanalysis, Politics and Culture: By Michael Rustin. London and New York: Verso. 1991. Pp. 270.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 74:201-204.

(1993). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 74:201-204

The Good Society and the Inner World: Psychoanalysis, Politics and Culture: By Michael Rustin. London and New York: Verso. 1991. Pp. 270.

Review by:
Jane Temperley

Professor Rustin is a sociologist with an intimate knowledge of psychoanalysis of the Kleinian and British Object Relations school. He is in a specially advantaged position from which to observe psychoanalytic theory and practice in its relation to the contemporary intellectual and political scene. He has the perspective of an outsider but has a profound and sure understanding of the psychoanalytic tradition he is studying. It is a relief and a pleasure to find the psychoanalytic world illuminated and put in context without being misrepresented.

He begins with an examination of whether his commitment to psychoanalysis is relevant to his political position as a socialist. Socialism and Marxism may have failed because they took too narrow an economic view of human needs. Psychoanalysis has and can, he contends, enrich socialism through its understanding of human needs that transcend the merely material.

He is particularly drawn to the object-relations school of British psychoanalysis which stresses our human dependence from birth on the nature of our relationship with the human beings around us, originally our mothers. It is the psychoanalytic tradition which rejects Freud's theory of primary narcissism that appeals to him. Psychoanalytic study of the vital role of the mother in enabling, or failing to enable, the child to cope with his emotional experiences and to develop a capacity to be reflective and to think has for Rustin wider social and political implications. He describes how such awareness has already had social impact in education and in such practices as encouraging parents to accompany small children to hospital.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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