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Jackson, M. (1990). Psychosomatic Symptoms: Psychodynamic Treatment of the Underlying Personality Disorder: Edited by C. Philip Wilson and Ira L. Mintz. London and Northvale, N.J.: Jason Aronson. 1989. Pp. 460.. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 17:388-390.
(1990). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 17:388-390
Psychosomatic Symptoms: Psychodynamic Treatment of the Underlying Personality Disorder: Edited by C. Philip Wilson and Ira L. Mintz. London and Northvale, N.J.: Jason Aronson. 1989. Pp. 460.
Review by: Murray Jackson
This interesting and important book, edited by Wilson & Mintz, is the successor to Fear of Being Fat, a study of anorexia nervosa, reviewed by Hughes (1984). The senior author, C. Philip Wilson, is the Chairman of the psychosomatic discussion group of the Psychoanalytic Association of New York. This society was founded in 1960 by Melitta Sperling, a pioneer in the field of psychosomatics, widely known for her studies of anorexia nervosa and ulcerative colitis and her support for the theory of pregenitalconversion and the primarysymbolic content of many psychosomatic disorders. Wilson has carried on and developed her work since her death in 1973 and has been involved in the foundation, in 1983, of a further research unit, the psychosomatic discussion group of the American Psychoanalytic Association, of which he is also Chairman.
This book ranges far beyond anorexia nervosa, and whilst concentrating on disorders of the gastrointestinal and respiratory systems, offers a perspective on psychosomatic and somatopsychic disorders as a whole. Both editors contribute substantially, and are helped by the studies of 6 other experts, some of whom are already well known. The introductory acknowledgement of the help or inspiration of no less than 80 workers in the field is an impressive testimony to the vigour and enthusiasm with which the subject of the psychodynamics and psychoanalytic psychotherapy of psychosomatic disorders is being pursued in North America.
The title of the book is well chosen, indicating that the perspective is essentially a clinical one, and the reference to psychosomatic symptoms and underlying personality disorder widens the field far beyond earlier concepts of the 'big seven' discrete psychosomatic diseases. Whilst giving full acknowledgement to the multi-factorial nature of psychosomatic symptoms (genetic, infective, immunological etc.) the aim of the book is to demonstrate the claim that a personality disorder underlies significant psychosomatic symptomatology, that psychoanalytic psychotherapy is the treatment of choice which can, in favourable cases, ameliorate or cure the somatic disorder.
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