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Jacobs, D. (1992). Cultivating Freud's Garden in France: By Marion Michele Oliner, Ph.D. Northvale, NJ/London: Jason Aronson, Inc., 1988. 332 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 61:120-122.

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(1992). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 61:120-122

Cultivating Freud's Garden in France: By Marion Michele Oliner, Ph.D. Northvale, NJ/London: Jason Aronson, Inc., 1988. 332 pp.

Review by:
Daniel Jacobs

One cannot read Marion Oliner's book without wanting more. This is its great strength and, at the same time, its greatest weakness. The task Oliner sets for herself—that of introducing the reader to French psychoanalytic thought, with all its variety and its political and ideological factionalism—is a formidable one. Others who have attempted to do so, such as Turkle and Lemaire, have narrowed their focus to a particular aspect of the French psychoanalytic movement or to a particular thinker. Oliner, however, has chosen the broader road, attempting, with some success, to orient us first to the history of psychoanalysis in France and then to introduce us to the theories of many of its most prominent thinkers.

Oliner divides her book into three sections. The first is a rather sketchy history of the French psychoanalytic movement. The second discusses classical analysis, as exemplified by the work of Béla Grunberger and Janine Chasseguet-Smirgel. Oliner succinctly reviews their theories of narcissism, female sexuality, and perversion. The last part of the book addresses French psychoanalytic thought concerning the treatment of psychosomatic illness. In this section, she reports on the contributions of Joyce McDougall, Michel Fain, and Denise Braunschweig (to name just a few). Oliner's background as a French literature major familiar with the language and culture of France, as well as her experience as an analyst, would seem to uniquely qualify her for such an undertaking. Yet the book is disappointing in a number of ways. First, the history that she provides leaves large gaps. The rich philosophical and intellectual roots of the French psychoanalytic tradition, and the influence of the surrealist movement, or of Melanie Klein, on French psychoanalytic thought (particularly on the work of Chasseguet-Smirgel) is not dealt with in any depth, if at all. Nor are the more current ideas of Derrida and Habermas and their influence on French psychoanalytic


1 Turkle, S. (1978): Psychoanalytic Politics: Freud's French Revolution. New York: Basic Books. Reviewed in this Quarterly, 1980, 40:167-168.

2 Lemaire, A. (1977): Jacques Lacan. Translated by D. Macey. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

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