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Singer, M. (1992). Parental Loss and Achievement: By Marvin Eisenstadt, André Haynal, Pierre Rentchnick, and Pierre de Senarclens. Madison, CT: International Universities Press, Inc., 1989. 338 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 61:270-274.
(1992). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 61:270-274
Parental Loss and Achievement: By Marvin Eisenstadt, André Haynal, Pierre Rentchnick, and Pierre de Senarclens. Madison, CT: International Universities Press, Inc., 1989. 338 pp.
Review by: Melvin Singer
This volume is a multinational, multidisciplinary collection of articles, written in the late seventies and originally appearing as one French and one American work, now combined to create this new edition. While their work was apparently conceived independently and carried out with different methodologies, the French group and the American author came to similar conclusions. They see loss of a parent as a trauma that imposes pressure on the psyche to recapture paradise lost. Paradise can be re-established through creativity in ideal works of art, in science, literature, etc., or in the will toward power as a political leader. Through the search for an ideal in society, a political leader can become the father of a society in which one is what one longs for. Through this identification, a lost father is no longer missed. The longing for an archaic unity with a lost mother, which is the basis of nostalgia, can be seen in all of our myths and legends of a golden age; projected into the future, this becomes the quest for utopia and immortality that is the springboard for all great human enterprises.
This collection is comprised of four sections, three of which are not psychoanalytic in the strict sense but are psychoanalytically informed. The authors are a research psychologist, a historian, and two physicians, one of whom is a psychoanalyst. This makes the book quite interesting, as the authors approach the topic from very different perspectives.
In "Parental Loss and Genius" by Marvin Eisenstadt, parental loss refers to the death of one or both parents. The criterion for eminence in a field (genius) is inclusion in the Encyclopedia Britannica or the Encyclopedia Americana, with an average space allocation
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