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Volkan, V.D. (1989). The Psychology of Separation and Loss. Perspectives on Development, Life Transitions, and Clinical Practice: By Jonathan Bloom-Feshbach, Sally Bloom-Feshbach, et al. San Francisco/London: Jossey-Bass, Inc., 1987. 587 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 58:484-487.
(1989). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 58:484-487
The Psychology of Separation and Loss. Perspectives on Development, Life Transitions, and Clinical Practice: By Jonathan Bloom-Feshbach, Sally Bloom-Feshbach, et al. San Francisco/London: Jossey-Bass, Inc., 1987. 587 pp.
Review by: Vamik D. Volkan
This book is divided into three parts, the first of which focuses on the impact of physical loss and psychological separateness during the developmental years. The second discusses the effects of crucial life situations, such as the dissolution of a marriage or removal to a new culture, these being experienced as losses. The concluding section deals with psychopathology arising from loss and separation, along with suggestions for treatment. Psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychoanalysts whose interests range from primate studies to family medicine have contributed to this volume.
A lengthy introductory chapter by the editors is the bedrock of the book. In it, they attempt to interweave findings from contemporary research on infancy with those from clinical psychoanalysis, Bowlby's attachment theory, and the formulations on cognition by Joseph Lichtenberg, who, in an earlier publication, examined psychoanalysis from the viewpoint of contemporary infant research. In the Foreword, he supports the value of bringing a diversity of special interests into the exploration of the subjects at hand. He holds that the acknowledgement of such diversity and the willingness to deal with controversy paradoxically prevent those major splits and "excommunications" that marked the early days of psychoanalysis. Accordingly, the editors of this book, Jonathan and Sally Bloom-Feshbach, grapple with such issues as the validity of certain psychoanalytic formulations, the benefits and limitations of empiricism, and conflicts among various psychoanalytic theories. They believe that what they call representation or psychological representation "emerges as a cross-cutting concept, holding promise for unifying the disparate clinical, research, and theoretical approaches to the study of separation phenomena" (pp. 3-4). Representation is described as involving mental models or schematic constructions of individual experience.
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