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Orgel, S. (2005). My life in theory, By Leo Rangell New York: Other Press. 2004. 320 pp.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 86(2):587-594.

(2005). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 86(2):587-594

My life in theory, By Leo Rangell New York: Other Press. 2004. 320 pp.

Review by:
Shelly Orgel

In a very personal account, Leo Rangell reviews 60 years of experience at the center of the sometimes tumultuous worlds of organizational psychoanalysis—in Los Angeles, the American Psychoanalytic Association (APsaA), and the International Psychoanalytical Association (IPA). He has been president of all of them, and has been awarded, not without political maneuverings by colleagues, the positions of Honorary President and Honorary Vice President of the IPA. He paints a self-portrait of an energetic, brilliant, crusty, outspoken man who relishes active participation in life. A guiding purpose in his analytic career, he writes, has been to hold the line against increasing fragmentation of the field engendered by psychoanalysts everywhere who have promoted pluralism, partial theories, and compromised integrity, in both moral and structural senses. He intends this look backward to further his efforts to preserve and extend Freud's theoretical core, and to participate in building what he calls ‘one total composite psychoanalytic theory’.

In writing this valedictory book, he demonstrates for the record what his ‘analytic eye’ has discerned of how regularly individual personalities, especially in groups—their alliances and enmities, their attractions and hatreds, their unconscious conflicts and moral flaws—have shaped the course of the psychoanalytic discipline and organizational life, and energized its penchant for divisiveness and fruitless controversies. Sometimes, he claims, even moves toward rapprochements have been motivated more by politics than science.

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