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Levine, H.B. (2004). Relationality: From Attachment to Intersubjectivity. By Stephen A. Mitchell, Ph.D. Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press, 2000. 173 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 73(3):828-836.

(2004). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 73(3):828-836

Relationality: From Attachment to Intersubjectivity. By Stephen A. Mitchell, Ph.D. Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press, 2000. 173 pp.

Review by:
Howard B. Levine

Stephen Mitchell's untimely death in December of 2000 cut short his brilliant career as a psychoanalytic theorist and leader of the relational movement. This book, the last to be published in his lifetime, stands as a final chapter in his thought-provoking and innovative contributions and as a memorial to its author. Beginning with Object Relations in Psychoanalytic Theory (coauthored with Jay Greenberg) and continuing with Hope and Dread in Psychoanalysis and Influence and Autonomy in Psychoanalysis, Mitchell dedicated himself to working out the implications of the proposition that human minds—and, therefore, the clinical processes of psychoanalysis— originate and evolve as fundamentally social phenomena (p. xii).

His view of “the social,” however, was neither superficial nor simplistically behavioristic. Rather, he sought to map the development and functioning of the human mind by elucidating the complex dialectical relationship that exists between inner and outer, nature and nurture, the self and its objects. In so doing, Mitchell proved himself to be a subtle and sophisticated psychoanalytic thinker, whose subject was the interpenetration of the interpersonal and the intrapsychic:

In the beginning, we might say, is the relational, social, linguistic matrix in which we discover ourselves …. Within


1 Greenberg, J. & Mitchell, S. (1983). Object Relations in Psychoanalytic Theory. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press

2 Mitchell, S. (1993). Hope and Dread in Psychoanalysis. New York: Basic Books.

3 Mitchell, S. (1997). Influence and Autonomy in Psychoanalysis. Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press.

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