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Schulman, M.A. (2006). My Life in Theory, By Leo Rangell. Other Press, 2004, 363 pp. ISBN 1-59051-113-1. $35. Psychoanal. Psychol., 23(1):181-183.

(2006). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 23(1):181-183

Book Review

My Life in Theory, By Leo Rangell. Other Press, 2004, 363 pp. ISBN 1-59051-113-1. $35

Review by:
Martin A. Schulman, Ph.D.

Leo Rangell has been a central figure in the theoretical, clinical, and organizational aspects of psychoanalysis for over 6 decades. He is the only native-born American to become Honorary President of the International Psychoanalytic Association, where he twice was elected President. He also served 2 terms as President of the American Psychoanalytic Association. One might therefore view him and this intellectual autobiography as the voice of the ultimate “insider.” To do so would, however, miss the independence and humanness of the author. Actually, this “autobiography” consists of several parallel strains. It is indeed a history of Rangell's lifetime journey and love affair with psychoanalysis; it is a critique of the direction that psychoanalysis has taken, and subsequently a call for a total composite theory, and finally, it is an attempt to set the record straight. As he stated in relation to Anna Freud, and one can easily generalize to others “…I am not an impartial observer, but have my own axe to grind” (p. 173). The “axe” presents his view of some of the major participants in the last half century and his apologia for the disputes he had with them, or they with him. Greenson, Joe Sandler, Anna Freud, Kohut, all appear and are presented in not the most favorable light, although more human than the hagiography their followers present. Since they are no longer alive, and cannot respond (which is simply a function of Rangell's fortunate longevity, and not an attempt to “stack the deck”), we will leave that part of the book with the caveat that for those interested in the history of the psychoanalytic movement in the 2nd half of the 20th century, this is an invaluable overview.

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