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Ellman, S. (1995). The Mind and its Depths by Richard Wollheim Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993, x + 214 pp., $24.95; $14.95 paper. Psa. Books, 6(1):46-49.

(1995). Psychoanalytic Books, 6(1):46-49

The Mind and its Depths by Richard Wollheim Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993, x + 214 pp., $24.95; $14.95 paper

Review by:
Steven Ellman, Ph.D.

Unexpected pleasures often imply the satisfaction of discovery, and yet somehow it feels strange to classify the reading of a philosophic essay as a discovery. Nevertheless, as one reads Richard Wollheim's essays it is difficult to imagine that most readers will not enjoy the sense of discovery. His profundity, the wonderful precision and lucidity of his writings will intellectually stimulate and even excite, readers of The Mind and Its Depths.

In writing this review I am reminded of my first encounter with Professor Wollheim, at the Graduate Center of City University of New York. There he was conducting a seminar and gently debating (that is, his tone was gentle) philosophers and psychologists about the merits of Freudian and Kleinian concepts. His debate was not restricted to those who disparaged psychoanalysis; rather, his debate was perhaps most strongly waged with those who considered themselves Freudians. This is easier to understand when one realizes that Wollheim has implicitly and explicitly drawn connections between Freudian and Kleinian theory into a convincing historical and theoretical gallimaufry. It is his contention that Klein “is the proper continuation” (p. 52) of Freudian thought. In the present volume this type of programmatic or theoretical contention is seldom offered; rather, the reader will have to uncover the connections in this richly textured group of collected essays. These essays have varied roots. Most began as honorary lectures, some were written for special occasions, and one or two were more everyday events (i.e., talks presented at conventions). None of the essays is, however, ordinary in any manner. The human psyche is Wollheim's purview, and whether he begins writing about Confucius, Isaiah Berlin, Melanie Klein, or even Professor Grünbaum, Wollheim never fails to illuminate and stretch the reader's mind.

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