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Spezzano, C.J. (2004). Bad feelings By Roy Schafer New York: Other Press. 2003. 164 pp.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 85(3):776-779.

(2004). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 85(3):776-779

Bad feelings By Roy Schafer New York: Other Press. 2003. 164 pp.

Review by:
Charles J. Spezzano

For at least a decade Roy Schafer has been involved in rethinking his theoretical position. This position, by his description, had been an amalgam of ‘Freud's writings, mid-twentieth century psychoanalytic ego psychology, and contemporary Freudian analysis’ (p. xiv). What he has been trying to integrate into that position (or, perhaps more accurately, what he has been using to reformulate that position) is the work of the Kleinian group in the British Society. Bad feelings is a book-length statement of this integration.

The crux of Schafer's Freudian-Kleinian position is that analysts must ‘maintain their analytic position through thick and thin’ (p. xi), as they encounter not patients' bad feelings but defenses against them. This does not seem to constitute a shift from Schafer's previous thinking, so what has study of the London Kleinians added? One might say, without being contentious, nothing, because Schafer himself emphasizes that he simply is ‘responding to a deep harmony that has not yet been fully theorized’ (p. xiv). Yet, it seems unlikely that Schafer has been working for over a decade simply to convince us that North American Freudians and London Kleinians have been approaching analysis in much the same way, while being prevented from realizing this by their happening to speak different languages.

One thing that seems to have become important to Schafer about the work of the London Kleinians is that he sees them as having conceptualized an approach to the more-than-oedipal/neurotic-conflicted patients—for whom, especially, some of Schafer's North American colleagues have been suggesting and describing technical flexibility—that allows for maintaining what Schafer views as an ‘analytic’ position even with these patients, whose unconscious psychologies inherently lead them to strongly challenge that position.

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