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Meissner, W.W. (1997). Paranoia. New Psychoanalytic Perspectives: Edited by John M. Oldham, M.D. and Stanley Bone, M.D. Madison, CT: International Universities Press, Inc., 1994. 174 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 66:538-540.

(1997). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 66:538-540

Paranoia. New Psychoanalytic Perspectives: Edited by John M. Oldham, M.D. and Stanley Bone, M.D. Madison, CT: International Universities Press, Inc., 1994. 174 pp.

Review by:
W. W. Meissner

The subject of paranoia has provided a seemingly endless source of fascination and rejuvenation of psychoanalytic hypotheses almost from the beginning of the psychoanalytic adventure. Paranoia had its own fascinating history even before Freud's analysis of the Schreber case. But Freud brought to the classificatory preoccupations of descriptive psychiatry a dynamic and genetic perspective that breathed new life into the subject and provided a persistent launching pad for continuing psychoanalytic explorations of this provocative form of psychopathology. Again and again, analysts have returned not only to the Schreber case, but also to the clinical expressions of paranoia, always with deepening insight and enriched clinical perspective. The phenomenon of paranoid mental processes and psychological functioning continues to exercise its enticing appeal, as the essays in this present slender volume demonstrate.

The selection of papers in this volume reflects various current developments in theorizing about paranoid states. Several have been previously published. The selection suffers from the usual unevenness found in collections of essays by various authors, but the overall quality of the contributions is commendable. The contributions do succeed in bringing the account of contemporary understanding of paranoia to a point more or less congruent with current interests and perspectives, but the title's claim on “new” perspectives may fall somewhat short of its target. Even the contributions that are appearing here for the first time tend to rehearse previous developments rather than advance our thinking to any significant degree.

The historical review provided by the editors is highly selective and superficial. Hanna Segal provides a short essay reviewing the Kleinian paranoid-schizoid position, adding that paranoid symptomatology may not always manifest itself in psychotic form. Elizabeth Auchincloss and Richard Weiss review some of the literature on paranoid character, particularly related to issues of object constancy, and focus their analysis on the question of intolerance of indifference. David Shapiro's paper reviews some of his thinking on paranoid character, and discusses the relation between obsessive and paranoid rigidity.

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