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Spero, M.H. (1998). Book Review Essay: Mentalizing Negative Spaces in the Wake of the Holocaust. Psychoanal Q., 67(4):698-713.

(1998). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 67(4):698-713

Book Review Essay: Mentalizing Negative Spaces in the Wake of the Holocaust

Review by:
Moshe Halevi Spero, Ph.D.

He who is unable to interpret his past may also be incapable of projecting concretely his interest in emancipation.

Ricoeur (1992p. 304)

Israeli psychoanalyst Ilany Kogan's collection of clinical essays is an unparalleled contribution to the psychoanalytic understanding of the nature of transgenerational scarring set in motion by the Holocaust and its aftermath. Its essays are clearly written, detailed portraits of the inability to mourn and to symbolize pain, the concretization of meaning, and the perverse manifestations of the repetition compulsion. From the point of view of treatment, each of these essays is a realization of the second generation's mute cry for articulation. More significantly, each depicts the mutual struggles of the analytic partners as they try to “survive” the paradoxical antagonisms that result precisely from the use of the analytic relationship itself in order to understand the magnitude of the gaping psychic holes that pockmark the mind where mentality was meant to be, to actively seek the content of the unknown, and to construct a more cohesive sense of self.

As the first single-author collection wholly devoted to psychoanalytic treatment of second generation analysands, Kogan's casebook allows for close evaluation of the analyst's developing acumen, over a relatively short period of twelve years, with a very challenging clinical population.

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