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Brodsky, B. (1967). Griefs and Discontents. The Forces of Change: By Gregory Rochlin, M.D. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1965. 403 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 36:606-607.

(1967). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 36:606-607

Griefs and Discontents. The Forces of Change: By Gregory Rochlin, M.D. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1965. 403 pp.

Review by:
Bernard Brodsky

Dr. Rochlin states that the aim of this book is to present the development of a central psychological conflict, the loss complex. The book is based on previous papers appearing in The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child and The Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. The papers reappear in slightly modified form as chapters. Rochlin amplifies and shows further applications of the central theme in several additional chapters. The nucleus of his thought is that object loss, a ubiquitous occurrence in human life, leads to constant restitutional attempts which he considers a principal motive for the individual's development and achievements, 'an important engine of change'.

Dr. Rochlin feels that analysts have overstressed the pain and damage resulting from loss without sufficiently acknowledging or investigating the beneficial effects it can engender by stimulating efforts at restitution. He points out that Freud's writings were, from the outset, pervasively oriented to the theme of loss and restitution from the child's birth onward. He quotes Freud in his 1908 paper, The Relation of the Poet to Day-Dreaming: 'Really we never can relinquish anything; we only exchange one thing for something else. When we appear to give something up all we really do is adopt a substitute.'

An experienced analyst with children and adults, Dr. Rochlin presents case material from all ages. He considers the loss complex (the reaction to object loss) to have different manifestations at different ages relative to the nature of the personality development. For example, true depression cannot occur in children because of the nondevelopment of a full superego, a point of view shared by many analysts. He feels that the earliest and simplest expression of the loss complex is to be found in the dread of abandonment. In the chapter on fear of death he adumbrates some experimental studies with children. Like others, he has come to the conclusion that children are preoccupied early in life with death as a loss. This produces significant effects eventually leading to religious concepts of immortality as restitution. Creativity is considered in a similar vein.

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