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Zabarenko, L.M. (1993). Reaching the Affect: Style in the Psychodynamic Therapies by Emanuel Hammer Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 1990, xvii + 214 pp., $25.00. Psa. Books, 4(4):534-538.

(1993). Psychoanalytic Books, 4(4):534-538

Reaching the Affect: Style in the Psychodynamic Therapies by Emanuel Hammer Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 1990, xvii + 214 pp., $25.00

Review by:
Lucy M. Zabarenko, Ph.D.

In a way reading this book was like revisiting my Uncle Joe. A tiny, volatile Rumanian whose family had trained horses for the king, he'd tramp me over his farm lecturing on topics crucial to every educated person: what the book of Exodus was really about, the proper way to use fresh goat manure, and the scandalous failure of contemporary society to appreciate Conrad's prose and the Beatles' use of counterpoint. Even in his 90s, his stamina and imperious authority never flagged as we toiled up miles of hilly ground, and it was always I who had to ask for a rest.

Hammer's versatile text has much of this unboundedness and charm, a view of psychoanalysis uninterrupted by disciplinary fences or demarcations among theories of technique. The freewheeling approach certainly gives the book velocity, but you'll need your seat belt; there is plenty of careening and lots of bumps.

The style puts a reviewer in an unenviable spot. To complain about dissonances and turgidity in a book with so much enthusiasm and energy can sound shirty. Accuracy, clarity and substantive conceptualization may be only some of the criteria we use to judge psychoanalytic writing, but they continue to work for me and for many readers, and without them I think the field is in deep trouble.

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