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Spruiell, V. (1986). Pleasure and Frustration: A Resynthesis of Clinical and Theoretical Psychoanalysis: By Leon Wallace, M.D. New York: International Universities Press, Inc., 1984. 193 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 55:640-644.

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(1986). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 55:640-644

Pleasure and Frustration: A Resynthesis of Clinical and Theoretical Psychoanalysis: By Leon Wallace, M.D. New York: International Universities Press, Inc., 1984. 193 pp.

Review by:
Vann Spruiell

An intellectual discipline worthy of the name finds coherence and cohesiveness if its practitioners share common modes of work and common technical principles to govern those modes. The technical principles are—or should be—used in interaction with a small number of shared, fundamental assumptions, a smaller number of models or metaphors, and a set of inferred abstractions. Some of the abstractions are testable; others are speculative and may never be testable. Testable or not, the theoretical abstractions make up the discardable superstructure of theory of which Freud wrote. But the fundamental assumptions of a field are not ordinarily challenged by empirical experiences unless a revolution is at hand. In physics, for example, the recent discovery of yet another force in nature qualifies Galileo's assumptions about the actions of gravity; we may have at hand at least a part-revolution. In contrast, the models or metaphors, along with inferences made from them, are regularly challenged (unless the discipline has become frozen as a belief system). So are techniques. The assumptions, metaphors, and technical principles may also be shared in non-conscious ways (in the sense of automatisms) and unconsciously in terms of shared fantasies. Outside awareness, within theoretical scotomata, they may remain unchallenged despite outmoded or internally contradictory qualities.

The psychoanalytic reader comes to suspect that our literature moves in cycles, as if inhaling and exhaling. Given concepts become elaborated idiosyncratically and expansively as a result of new empirical experiences and/or because of new theoretical speculations. In that phase, finally, rationality if not reason itself seems to reach a bursting point. Then colleagues sweep through to sort out and try to make sense of the accumulations. It would be pleasant to claim that the results of these cycles represent a continuous, progressive spiral. Regrettably, this is not necessarily so.

Sometimes the mutual influences of theory and practice become frozen when there are special needs to maintain theoretical blind

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