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Ornstein, A. (1995). Human Feelings; Explorations in Affect Development and Meaning. : Edited by Steven L. Ablon, Daniel Brown, Edward J. Khantzian and John E. Mack. Hillsdale, NJ and London: Analytic Press. 1993. Pp. 431.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 76:1281-1282.

(1995). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 76:1281-1282

Human Feelings; Explorations in Affect Development and Meaning. : Edited by Steven L. Ablon, Daniel Brown, Edward J. Khantzian and John E. Mack. Hillsdale, NJ and London: Analytic Press. 1993. Pp. 431.

Review by:
Anna Ornstein

Although the centrality of emotional experiences in psychoanalysis has always been recognised, few contributions were made to this topic in the early years of psychoanalysis. Over the last twenty years, however, affect has become a major area of exploration and it has gradually replaced Freud's drive discharge theory as a major factor motivating human behaviour. This book's examination of emotions from various perspectives, by authors from various disciplines, is a welcome contribution to this rapidly expanding area in developmental psychology and clinical psychoanalysis.

It is difficult to avoid repetition in the chapters of edited books, but this disadvantage of multiple authorship has been minimised in this volume because of the many years of collaboration between the authors in the Harvard Affect Study Group. However, the chapters vary greatly in quality of content and style. For example, the chapters containing clinical material do not sufficiently stress affect development and meaning, which are the book's major emphasis. This book suffers from the common problem in psychoanalytic publications: carefully enunciated theory has little to do with the conceptualisation of the clinical material. The chapter on ‘Affect and addictive suffering’ is an exception; Khantzian seamlessly integrates disturbances in affect regulation with the clinical manifestations of addiction.

Considering the great variety of perspectives from which emotions have been examined, the editors have done a remarkable job in organising the book into five sections: ‘Theoretical considerations’, ‘Affect and the life cycle’, ‘Trauma, addiction and psychosomatics’, ‘Transformation of affect’ and ‘New directions’. The exhaustive lists of references following each chapter add enormously to the value of the book.

The first chapter, by Daniel Brown, is the conceptual foundation of the book.

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