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Pierides, S. (1993). From the Words of my Mouth: Tradition in Psychotherapy: Edited by L. Spurling. London: Tavistock. 1993. Pp. 165.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 74:867-868.

(1993). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 74:867-868

From the Words of my Mouth: Tradition in Psychotherapy: Edited by L. Spurling. London: Tavistock. 1993. Pp. 165.

Review by:
Stella Pierides

The word tradition is said to come from the Latin tradere, meaning both to hand over or deliver, and to betray. Spurling sets the scene for this collection of papers by pointing to the ambivalent usage of the word. It has come to denote, on the one hand, something providing continuity without which there can be no progress, and, on the other, an attitude of unthinking attachment to a practice or form of knowledge which stands in the way of progress if not torn down.

Views on tradition are presented as standing between these two poles and the reader is given various questions as guides: What is a tradition? Are there different kinds, some of which are more open to revision and criticism than others? How do they come into being and how are they transmitted? And, most importantly, as psychotherapists, how do we come to find our own unique voice in our profession, and in whose name do we speak? Spurling goes on to discuss tradition as authority, considering the setting up of the psychoanalytic tradition and the means of passing it on and safeguarding it (though little is said about its continuous development). This leads him to warn that 'fascination' with our theories can be as stultifying as the illnesses our patients are trying to free themselves from, putting the issue in terms of the extremes of either a blind fascination with received theory or liberation from it.

The individual authors approach tradition with these questions in mind and create in their own way an interesting and thought-provoking book.

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