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Symington, N. (1984). Philosophical Essays on Freud: Edited by Richard Wollheim and James Hopkins. London: Cambridge University Press. 1982. Pp. 305.. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 11:126-127.

(1984). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 11:126-127

Philosophical Essays on Freud: Edited by Richard Wollheim and James Hopkins. London: Cambridge University Press. 1982. Pp. 305.

Review by:
Neville Symington

Eleven out of these seventeen essays have been published before elsewhere. They are all by different authors and there is not a central theme governing their structure. Some papers are strictly philosophical whereas a few are psychological. With the exception of two papers which are excerpts from Wittgenstein and Sartre, they were all written within the last fifteen years. And apart from these two papers they are representative of thinkers from the English speaking world. As will be obvious the papers vary greatly in their quality and interest.

In his introduction, James Hopkins stresses that psychoanalysis is concerned with meaning and not with the scientific investigation of causes. He quotes H. J. Home's classic paper 'The concept of mind' where meaning is defined as 'the creation of a subject'. This is one pole in a bipolar definition of meaning. It is the aspect of meaning which has been stressed by those psychoanalysts who have derived theory from their experience of treating psychotic patients. What is especially noticeable in these patients is the absence of the subjective. It is for this reason that they do not perceive the sense of a communication or the spirit that lies behind the words but are tied to the individual words, ripped from their context. Winnicott was concerned with this notion when he spoke of the false self which shrouds the true self—i.e. the subjective self. The purpose of psychoanalysis becomes then the restoration of the subject or perhaps the healing of the subject.

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