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Taylor, G.J. (2004). The Edge of Experience: Borderline and Psychosomatic Patients in Clinical Practice, edited by Grigoris Vaslamatzis and Andreas Rabavilas, Karnac, London, 2001, 100 pp., $$17.99.. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 32(2):409-411.

(2004). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 32(2):409-411

The Edge of Experience: Borderline and Psychosomatic Patients in Clinical Practice, edited by Grigoris Vaslamatzis and Andreas Rabavilas, Karnac, London, 2001, 100 pp., $$17.99.

Review by:
Graeme J. Taylor, M.D.

Edited by:
Joseph P. Merlino, M.D., M.P.A.

This slim volume is a collection of seven papers that were selected from a larger number of papers presented at the First European Conference on Psychotherapy held in Athens in 1997. The seven papers were written by psychoanalytic psychotherapists and deal with problems related to the analysis and treatment of so-called borderline and psychosomatic patients. One of the papers is by Grigoris Vaslamatzis, who co-edited the book with his Greek colleague Andreas Rabavilas. Robert Hinshelwood, who is Professor of Psychoanalysis at the University of Essex and assisted the editors with the selection of the papers, provides an overview of the book in an introduction.

As Vaslamatzis and Rabavilas point out, the contributions to this book reflect the shift that has taken place in psychoanalysis over the past several decades, notably from its traditional focus on psychoneurotic patients to an interest in a “borderline spectrum” of “difficult” patients who present with histories of trauma, unstable relationships, perversions, narcissistic vulnerabilities, and somatic symptoms. To accommodate these patients, psychoanalysis was required to develop new models of the mind and new techniques of therapy. Although these new theoretical models and techniques are now well known to most psychoanalysts and psychoanalytic psychotherapists, this book brings some of the new ideas together and demonstrates their clinical application from mainly a European perspective.

The authors of each of the first two chapters, Marilia Aisenstein and Anna Potamianou, are members of the Psychosomatic Institute of Paris, which views somatization processes as a symbolic and therefore distinct from hysterical conversion in which the body becomes a language with the symptoms telling an unconscious story.

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