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Hirsch, I. (1990). The Self in Early Childhood by Joel Ryce-Menuhin London: Free Association Books, 1988, xii + 273 pp., $55.00. Psa. Books, 1(4):491-494.

(1990). Psychoanalytic Books, 1(4):491-494

The Self in Early Childhood by Joel Ryce-Menuhin London: Free Association Books, 1988, xii + 273 pp., $55.00

Review by:
Irwin Hirsch, Ph.D.

Creativity merits a certain license. Try as he may, Ryce-Menuhin's art is more of an abstract phenomenon than it is coherent in a linear fashion. He does his best to organize his work in a logical order and to state his purpose and his aims. He writes a long preface explaining what he is about to do and his table of contents is headed and subheaded in great detail. Throughout the volume he states and restates his aims and purposes, always trying to ground the reader in some structure and edifice. In the broad sense, he succeeds. After reading and rereading Ryce-Menuhin's book, I can state its main goal and theme. On a moment-to-moment reading level, however, my experience was highlighted by confusion. Perhaps the beauty of music, poetry, or abstract art is that, despite the fragments or individual pieces not being clear in and of themselves, one is left with an overall sense of meaning. The author succeeded in providing me with this broad sense of meaning while leaving me frequently bewildered along the road from beginning to end. This did not make for an easy read, but I cannot say it was not worthwhile.

As he states in his preface, Ryce-Menuhin is an artist (pianist) who after a mid-life depression entered a Jungian analysis. This opened up a new world for him and led him, at age 40, to a change in profession to a psychologist and eventually a Jungian psychoanalyst. He states that this move reflected his transcendence over being simply the sum of his parent's psychology. I take this assertion to mean that his mid-life shift reflected a discovery of something that was uniquely a self-experience, not intimately related to learned experience —in essence, a reflection of his collective unconscious and not only his parentally influenced unconscious.

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