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Larsson, B. (1998). Subjects of Analysis. By Thomas H. Ogden, M.D. Northvale, NJ/London: Jason Aronson Inc., 1994. 230 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 67(1):157-160.

(1998). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 67(1):157-160

Subjects of Analysis. By Thomas H. Ogden, M.D. Northvale, NJ/London: Jason Aronson Inc., 1994. 230 pp.

Review by:
Bo Larsson

Thomas Ogden's book, Subjects of Analysis, is a masterpiece. After three excellent books you would not expect him to be able to offer anything really new. But he does.

The “Subjects” in the title is, of course, a highly overdetermined word. Ogden writes about a wide variety of psychoanalytic subjects, but what he is mainly dealing with is the “psychoanalytic subject.” The agent that is capable of instigating genuine and deep-going psychic change in the “subject” of the analysand is, according to Ogden, neither that of the analysand nor that of the analyst. The (psycho)-analytic third, as he calls it, is created in-between analyst and analysand in the psychoanalytic dialogue. Referring to Winnicott, Ogden insists that the question of whether this “third subject” is intrapsychic or interpersonal is irrelevant. It is a reproduction of the mother-infant relationship that takes place in every genuine and successful psychoanalysis, be it with a “normal” neurotic, a perverse person, a borderline psychotic, or a schizophrenic.

Obviously, Ogden believes that his theoretical work bears on much more than psychoanalysis; it bears on the human condition in general. He starts his book with an existential warning: “It is too late to turn back. Having read the opening words of this book you have already begun to enter into the unsettling experience of finding yourself becoming a subject whom you have not yet met, but nonetheless recognize” (p. 1). A few pages later he states, “This book has already become ‘an eternal curse on the reader of these pages’…who…will destroy it, and out of that destruction will come a sound that…[the reader] will not fully recognize” (p.3) as his/her own but as creation by the analytic third, in this particular case the third created when the subjectivity of the reader meets that of the author.

Evidently, Ogden's thinking is deeply influenced by the dialectics of Hegel, which virtually permeate the whole book.

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