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Arundale, J. (1989). The Limits of Interpretation. What's Wrong with Psychoanalysis? By Peter Lomas. London: Penguin Books. 1987. Pp. 158.. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 16:128-129.

(1989). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 16:128-129

The Limits of Interpretation. What's Wrong with Psychoanalysis? By Peter Lomas. London: Penguin Books. 1987. Pp. 158.

Review by:
Jean Arundale

In this book, essentially a critique of the psychoanalytic orthodoxies, Peter Lomas states that 'it no longer makes sense to depend on a theory based on the paradigm of interpretation'. In his view, psychoanalysts have overextended this paradigm to become interpreting machines that function with a detached insensitivity that is intimidating and stultifying to patients. Lomas argues that the analytic process needs to be liberated from a tendency toward sterile indoctrination in which the analyst places himself in a position of exclusive possession of a special knowledge and language that is delivered to the patient on a Procrustean bed. Lomas criticizes the situation within psychoanalysis whereby the paramount aim of helping the patient has been replaced by the operation of applying theories with scientific status and an investment by analysts in a political impetus to demonstrate the validity of their own particular theoretical systems.

In a vivid, discursive style, with quotes from a wide range of authors, Lomas presents in his first six chapters problems in the traditional use of interpretation and theory, and puts forward various alternative means of reaching insight. There are six further chapters on the topics of parenting as a model, therapeutic breakdown, the misuse of power, giving and accepting, spontaneity and compassion.

In the introductory first chapter, Lomas says that interpretation as traditionally practised by drive/defence analysts often consists of diagnostic statements equivalent to a static labelling of the contents of the mind.

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