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Wilson, C.P. (1974). The Voice of the Symbol: By Martin Grotjahn, M.D. Los Angeles: Mara Books, 1971. 224 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 43:308-311.

(1974). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 43:308-311

The Voice of the Symbol: By Martin Grotjahn, M.D. Los Angeles: Mara Books, 1971. 224 pp.

Review by:
C. Philip Wilson

It is refreshing to read an author who is still preoccupied with symbols. The reviewer shares Grotjahn's opinion that symbolism and dreams have been neglected in the recent psychoanalytic literature. The author is to be congratulated for his attempt to be uninhibited in putting down exactly what he thinks and feels about symbolism and a wide range of related subjects.

The book comprises ten loosely connected chapters, extending from Symbolic Communication and Its Failure in Television to The Future of Man in the World of Symbol Integration. The reader would do well to begin with chapter eight, The Symbol in Psychoanalytic Theory, which gives a comprehensive review of research in symbolism. Grotjahn attempts to synthesize such divergent points of view as those of the Kleinians and classical freudians. However, this reviewer questions the author's conclusion that the work of Spitz confirms the hypotheses of the Kleinians. No mention is made of this reviewer's research establishing 'stone' as the earliest ontogenetic symbol and dating it to the time of weaning. Such an assumption is not in agreement with the Kleinians, who postulate symbol formation at three months of age, at the time of the so-called paranoid position.

Other chapters include an interesting study of the life and work of the relatively neglected psychosomatic pioneer, Georg Groddeck, and a fascinating though greatly condensed psychoanalytic appraisal of the symbol in medieval Christian art which concentrates largely upon Hieronymus Bosch's painting, The Millenium.

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