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Esman, A.H. (1991). The Primitive Edge of Experience: By Thomas H. Ogden, M.D. Northvale, NJ/London: Jason Aronson, Inc., 1989. 244 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 60:479-481.

(1991). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 60:479-481

The Primitive Edge of Experience: By Thomas H. Ogden, M.D. Northvale, NJ/London: Jason Aronson, Inc., 1989. 244 pp.

Review by:
Aaron H. Esman

In their ceaseless quest for the psychoanalytic philosopher's stone, increasing numbers of American analysts are turning to British object relations theory, as exemplified by the writings of Melanie Klein and her followers, Fairbairn, Guntrip, Winnicott, Bion, and other younger members of the "Independent" group. Among these seekers, Ogden has been one of the most articulate and persuasive spokesmen; the present volume is the latest in a series of thoughtful communications intended both to expound this point of view and to demonstrate its clinical efficacy in the context of the "widening scope" of contemporary psychoanalysis.

As is well known, one of the cardinal features of the "object relations" approach is its emphasis on preoedipal issues, both in "normal" development and in pathogenesis. Winnicott, for example, considered the very earliest mother-infant interactions as determining, particularly in the more severe character pathologies and psychoses; indeed, he explicitly understood schizophrenia as the consequence of maternal failure. Klein delineated in elaborate detail what she considered the critical psychodynamic events of the paranoid-schizoid and depressive positions, situated by her in the first half of the first year of postnatal life. Shapiro has characterized this tendency to seek the earliest origins of conflict as a "march backward."

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