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Richardson, R.D. Whitehead, C.C. (2011). Commentary on “The Turn of the Screw: The James Family's Encounters with the Terrors Lurking in the Unconscious Mind” by Barbara Young. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 39(2):335-336.

(2011). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 39(2):335-336

Commentary on “The Turn of the Screw: The James Family's Encounters with the Terrors Lurking in the Unconscious Mind” by Barbara Young Related Papers

Robert D. Richardson, Ph.D. and Clay C. Whitehead, M.D.

Just as a nation can be described as a collection of individuals united by a common detestation of their neighbors, so a family can be called a group of individuals unified by a shared snarl of pathologies. In turn, nations may be bound together by shared political affirmations, religious beliefs, and geographic circumstances all of which may interact with genetic adaptations. The modern view of these groups is thus multimodal, complex, and intriguing. Thus, when a family is as productive of genius, as skewed, and as complicated as the James family, our interest only intensifies over time.

There are several books devoted to the James family, the earliest of which, C. Hartley Grattan's The Three Jameses (1932), is nearly 80 years old. F. O. Matthiessen's The James Family came out in 1961, and most recently R. W. B. Lewis's The Jameses came out in 1991. Moreover, almost every biographical account of any one of the Jameses must spend a good deal of time on the family. There has emerged an unspoken consensus that with any one of the Jameses, we have an example of a life in which family interaction plays at least as large a part as that played by genetic inheritance, individual abilities, or personal, social, and economic circumstances. It is very difficult to assess any one of the Jameses apart from the family. One biographer found it all but impossible to keep Henry, Sr. from hijacking a biography of his son William.

Dr. Young's substantial article is a significant addition to our understanding of the Jameses.

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