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Spruiell, V. (1983). Transference Neurosis and Transference Psychosis: By Margaret I. Little. New York/London: Jason Aronson, Inc., 1981. 323 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 52:620-624.

(1983). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 52:620-624

Transference Neurosis and Transference Psychosis: By Margaret I. Little. New York/London: Jason Aronson, Inc., 1981. 323 pp.

Review by:
Vann Spruiell

This book, a conglomerate more than a collection of Little's writings, contains: published papers (converted into chapters), an assortment of previously unpublished works—some only a few paragraphs long (and also converted into chapters), fifteen poems, and an account of a dialogue with Robert Langs. The last is a species of oral history which includes, among other things, random bits of gossip. Little begins her introduction by acknowledging:

This is not a tidy book; it is not for those who like to have papers grouped neatly according to topic, and it is not a "text-book."… It has led to the inclusion of some more personal elements than are usually thought suitable for a serious book concerned with psychoanalysis… It represents something of my own "total response" to life (p. xix).

Thus, it is a set of clinical accounts, a part of a memoir, and an expression of an idiosyncratic personal philosophy. The "dialogue" also includes a number of personal opinions by Robert Langs which seem to have more to do with his interests than with hers. Not the easiest book to review, one might think.

This reviewer was reminded of the many exciting and troublesome controversies about work with psychotics that swirled among psychoanalysts twenty-five or thirty years ago. Harry Stack Sullivan, Marguerite Sechehaye, Frieda Fromm-Reichmann, and John Rosen come to mind, and, more recently, Searles in America and Laing in England. The work of some of the followers of Melanie Klein, particularly Herbert Rosenfeld, and the work of Winnicott, also belong here. The excitement, in this reviewer's mind, came from the fact that some of these charismatic healers got verifiable results. Furthermore, some of the clinical meanings they derived, however variably and idiosyncratically expressed, can be confirmed by other analysts capable of working with such patients. But it was troublesome that their explanations did not jibe with each other.

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