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Mills, J. (2017). Conservative and Radical Perspectives on Psychoanalytic Knowledge: The Fascinated and the Disenchanted. By Aner Govrin. London: Routledge, 2016. 255 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 86(4):946-949.
    

(2017). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 86(4):946-949

Conservative and Radical Perspectives on Psychoanalytic Knowledge: The Fascinated and the Disenchanted. By Aner Govrin. London: Routledge, 2016. 255 pp.

Review by:
Jon Mills

In this groundbreaking and controversial book, Israeli psychoanalyst Aner Govrin shows us that he is one of the most important psychoanalytic thinkers of our day. In Conservative and Radical Perspectives on Psychoanalytic Knowledge: The Fascinated and the Disenchanted, he analyzes practically the entire field of why different schools of psychoanalysis exist, their historical parameters, and how they coalesce and diverge around common assumptions regarding epistemology and group narcissism. He provides an even-handed critique of the developmental progression of psychoanalytic history that leaves no camp untouched by its own psychological motives and biases.

In this sense, he treats the field as if it were an anthropological patient by analyzing the history of psychoanalysis as a psychological being motivated by its own needs to construct a worldview, one that has evolved into a plurality of entities groping for the truth. To be more precise, all the existing schools of psychoanalysis have their own worldviews with regard to knowledge, truth, methodology, and theories of mind and human nature that presuppose certain philosophical assumptions that unconsciously inform a community's outlook on life, ways to therapeutically engage their patients, construct modes of knowledge and inquiry, and in turn relate to coexisting psychoanalytic schools with their own disdain and contempt fashioned by collective, shared identities in competition with others and their opposing points of view. Conceiving of psychoanalytic communities as psychological animals is a novel idea that draws the reader into witnessing the unfolding of a narrative history of our discipline.

One of the central theses of the book is that psychoanalysis represents a social organism that has both fascinated and troubled or disenchanted communities, which contributes to the vitality, dynamism, advancements, mutual tensions, and in-fighting that exist among schools.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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