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Sodré, I. (1992). Hanna Segal, Dream, Phantasy and Art: Tavistock/Routledge, 1991, £10.99 Paperback. J. Child Psychother., 18(2):156-158.

(1992). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 18(2):156-158

Hanna Segal, Dream, Phantasy and Art: Tavistock/Routledge, 1991, £10.99 Paperback

Review by:
IgnêS Sodré

If I had to decide which was the central concept in Segal's thinking in this book I would say work - as in psychic work, dream work, working through. Working through psychic conflicts is not only part of the process of analysis but a fundamental function of the healthy mind. In this conception, both dreams and works of art are produced as part of a process in which basic conflicts in the personality - essentially the conflict of love and hate, of the wish to know as against the wish not to know, as well as the movement towards growth in conflict with tendencies to remain the same or to regress - are constantly being struggled with and reworked in the mind. There is not such a thing as arriving at a psychologically mature position and sticking to it; conflict is always present. This view of mental functioning derives from Freud's Formulations on the two principles of mental functioning (1911), from his theory of the life and a death instinct and from Klein's further elaboration of his theories in her own conceptualisation of the paranoid-schizoid and the depressive positions.

In this book Segal's original ideas, both those first published in two now classical papers On aesthetics, (1952) and On symbolism (1957), and on dreams (about which she wrote and taught extensively, and used profusely to inform all her work) are developed and integrated. The different chapters relate to the themes in the title, but these in fact interweave in the book. Dreams are used throughout, clearly and imaginatively, so one feels that however complicated the concept being explained, one has always a ‘picture’ as an illustration.

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