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Ipp, H.R. (2005). Between emotion and cognition: The generative unconscious by Joseph Newirth New York: Other Press. 2003. 255 pp.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 86(4):1213-1215.

(2005). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 86(4):1213-1215

Between emotion and cognition: The generative unconscious by Joseph Newirth New York: Other Press. 2003. 255 pp.

Review by:
Hazel R. Ipp

In this scholarly and clinically rich book, Joseph Newirth sets out to offer a composite neo-Kleinian model of psychoanalysis, distinct from other models in its focus on the generative and creatively vital unconscious that provides meaning and tempers the overly rational and often affectively depleted mind. He views psychoanalysis as an active process, involving both analyst and patient as they come together through transitional experience, reverie and play, in the service of transforming concrete and discursive experiences into symbolic and symmetrical modes that generate meaning. According to Newirth, this development paves the way for the generative unconscious that permits, amongst other things, the possibility of a lively subjectivity and a vital affective participation in the world.

Evoking T. S. Eliot's ‘hollow man’, Newirth spotlights a particular pathology of the self that increasingly confronts us in our clinical milieu—i.e. the individual who, while functional in the world, presents as deadened, empty, lacking in agency and intimate connection. In our current age, ‘hollow man’, according to Newirth, has tended to eclipse Freud's ‘guilty man’ and Kohut's ‘tragic man’. In this vein, he offers a view of the self, evacuated through the constant externalization of intolerable unconscious fantasy, residing in an asymmetrical world of objects with significantly compromised symbolic capacity; a self devoid of passion, creativity and intimate relatedness—an object self.

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