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Eckardt, M.H. (2001). Relationality: Steven A. Mitchell, The Analytic Press, Hillsdale, N.J., 2000, 173 pp., $39.95.. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 29(4):681-683.

(2001). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 29(4):681-683

Relationality: Steven A. Mitchell, The Analytic Press, Hillsdale, N.J., 2000, 173 pp., $39.95.

Review by:
Marianne H. Eckardt, M.D.

Steven Mitchell had a gift for presenting theoretical issues with exceptional clarity and preciseness. In this book he attempts to integrate the various psychoanalytic theories that emphasize relational concepts. Differences reflect varying vantage points in this multidimensional field rather than competing points of view. This seemingly innocuous phrase, however, harbors a far greater issue challenging present-day psychoanalysis: the challenge of embracing hierarchical complexity and interactive multidimensionality. Most of our psychoanalytic and psychodynamic theories highlight certain arenas, yet invariably cast shadows on other equally important aspects. This important highlighting is unfortunately done in the spirit of “a school of thought,” or “the right approach.” This divisive competitiveness impoverishes rather than enriches the field. The interactive complexities of the human mind are beyond our ability to fully grasp and beyond our ability to adequately convey, except as a highly abstract principle. Still we have to learn to be more “at home” with complexity. We acknowledge its existence when we refer to the art of therapy. Steven Mitchell in this volume attempts to teach us a sensibility for and a possible approach to encompassing complex interrelationships. I wish he had chosen a different title, for this fails to convey the scope of the book and may be misleading. By using a recently coined term, he suggests a new orientation rather than an integrative one.

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