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Barrett, W.G. (1956). Swift and Carroll. A Psychoanalytic Study of Two Lives: By Phyllis Greenacre, M.D. New York: International Universities Press, Inc., 1955. 306 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 25:94-98.

(1956). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 25:94-98

Swift and Carroll. A Psychoanalytic Study of Two Lives: By Phyllis Greenacre, M.D. New York: International Universities Press, Inc., 1955. 306 pp.

Review by:
William G. Barrett

Any psychological study of a revered author is certain to evoke resentment to the point of open hostility among his admirers. A psychoanalytic study, no matter how cautious and gentle, will inevitably produce strong, even fulminating, reactions. Nor are psychoanalysts themselves immune to such responses when their literary favorites are subjected to pathographic study: resistances become as persistent as the grin of the Cheshire cat, as invisible as its body. Dr. Greenacre has trodden upon hallowed ground, for there are few whose childhood memories are not enriched by association with Gulliver and Alice and whose later years are not mellowed by rereading these more than twice-told tales. Must we be present at the autopsy of our beloved Alice? Must we pry into the unfragrant pregenital darkness of our stalwart Gulliver/ Indeed, as psychoanalysts we must; but let us be thankful that the author of this book is objective without being cold, learned but humble, ingenious without flamboyance, and confers dignity rather than humiliation upon the objects of her psychological dissection.

Swift and Carroll, one hundred and sixty-four years apart in time, are bound together by their genius for presenting in classical form many of the cruder fantasies of childhood. This psychoanalytic study of two lives, however, rests on a specific similarity in the paramount peculiarity of these authors' best known characters: their frequently changing size. Dr. Greenacre had discovered that among her patients those 'subject at certain critical periods in early life to external stresses of a nature which upset the integrity of the self-perception' suffered an impairment of the body image which might appear in 'disturbed subjective sensations of changing size of the total body or of certain body parts'.

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