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Rozmarin, E. (2019). Relational conundrums: A critique of Contemporary Psychoanalysis by Jon Mills. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 100(1):166-169.

(2019). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 100(1):166-169

Relational conundrums: A critique of Contemporary Psychoanalysis by Jon Mills

Eyal Rozmarin

Relational Psychoanalysis is by now a large and influential international psychoanalytic school with its own association and publications. For the joy of some and the lament or indifference of others, it is a significant vein of contemporary psychoanalytic discourse. Relational thought has modified and added some ideas to psychoanalysis as it has marginalized and dismissed others. To some, it has saved psychoanalysis from its more retrograde tendencies, to others it has betrayed its very essence. The contributions of the relational school and its place in the history and opus of psychoanalysis, its influences, appeal and rigour, are all interesting questions to contemplate. And so we should thank Jon Mills for having written a book that attempts to address these questions, a book that is a rare effort to consider the grand ideas and narratives that underlie our discipline. This book forces the reader to engage with the most basic questions about subjectivity, experience, knowledge and the very world we live in, as individuals and as psychoanalysts who chose the deliberation of meaning-making as their mission. And it does so while conversing with philosophical traditions whose relations to psychoanalysis are of the essence, a mission that is also of great value.

Mills introduces his project as an appreciative, constructive and above all rigorous critique of relational psychoanalysis. Yet already in the book’s very first pages, one encounters a rather uncritical tendency to render complex, nuanced ideas in simplistic, sometimes rather distorted fashion. The first of these instances, one on which Mills’ critique draws significantly and repeatedly, is his formulation of the relationship between relational theory and the concept of the unconscious.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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