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Mezan, R. (2008). A Monk on the Couch: An Adolescent Trajectory in the Central Middle Ages by David Léo Levisky Casa do Psicólogo, Sao Pãulo, 2007; 380 pp.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 89(3):663-670.

(2008). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 89(3):663-670

Book Reviews

A Monk on the Couch: An Adolescent Trajectory in the Central Middle Ages by David Léo Levisky Casa do Psicólogo, Sao Pãulo, 2007; 380 pp.

Review by:
Renato Mezan

“Was there such a thing as adolescence in other eras of civilization?” A myriad of problems writhe beneath the apparent simplicity of the question with which David Levisky opens his book, A Monk on the Couch: An Adolescent Trajectory in the Central Middle Ages. The dominant opinion on this matter would entail a negative answer — adolescence is a modern phenomenon and extrapolating it to a remote past is an ingenuous anachronism.

However, things are not so straightforward. A psychiatrist and psychoanalyst with extensive experience with adolescents, the author intended to go beyond the idées reçues and to inquire thoroughly into the relationship between psychic processes and their socio-cultural conditions. His adviser, University of S¼o Paulo mediaevalist Hilario Franco Junior, suggested that he studied Guibert de Nogent's autobiography, a confessio written between 1114 and 1117. The work is well known among Middle Age specialists and had already drawn the attention of other psychoanalysts — and rightly so, for it is a genuine gold-mine.

The ‘confession’ genre calls for a plunge into one's inner life dictated by the awareness of human littleness before God. It also requires sincerity and a capacity for introspection — he who confesses speaks about his desires, sins and fears, and uncompromisingly scrutinizes his own and others’ hearts. Guibert embraces this task with surprising sensibility. His sharp-eyed commentaries on many aspects of emotional life offer a wide basis for Dr Levisky's elaborations.

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