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Erreich, A. (2011). From Classical to Contemporary Psychoanalysis: A Critique and Integration, by Morris N. Eagle, New York, NY: Routledge, 2011, 321 pp., $36.95. Psychoanal. Psychol., 28(4):569-575.

(2011). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 28(4):569-575

Book Reviews

From Classical to Contemporary Psychoanalysis: A Critique and Integration, by Morris N. Eagle, New York, NY: Routledge, 2011, 321 pp., $36.95

Reviewed by
Anne Erreich, Ph.D.

In reviewing this book, it is useful to consider it in the context of Eagle's 1984 book, Recent Developments in Psychoanalysis: A Critical Evaluation, which surveyed the then-current status of psychoanalysis. In that volume Eagle's aim was to amalgamate conceptualizations derived from object relations and self-psychological theories with the biologically based bedrock of classical psychoanalytic theory. It is depressing to note that in some ways, not much has changed since then. As Wallerstein wrote in his jacket review in 1984, “current psychoanalytic theory consists of a bewildering array of different formulations.”

In that earlier attempt to synthesize competing psychoanalytic conceptualizations while assessing the various controversies that underlie them, Eagle was prescient regarding what the future, now the present, would bring. He foresaw a movement away from classical psychoanalytic formulations emphasizing drives, their gratification and frustration, and a movement toward a more diverse array of motivational systems, including object relational and self-integrative needs.

In many ways that first book was a warm up for the current one. In the earlier book, Eagle honed his meticulous appraisal of theories, specifically, the theories of Mahler, Model, Kohut, Fairbairn, G. S. Klein, and Weiss and Sampson. The second half of that book is organized by conceptual controversies, a sort of cross-sectional study of the same set of authors devoted to issues such as the conception of anxiety, conflict versus deficit models, hermeneutics, and veridicality versus effectiveness in psychoanalysis, ending with a section on common themes.

A comparison between Eagle's two volumes virtually defines the arc of psychoanalytic thought in the intervening 27 years. In the early volume, the work of Steven Mitchell appears once in the references, while the work of Jay Greenberg, Irwin Hoffman, Donnell Stern, Phillip Bromberg, Owen Renik, and Daniel Stern, not at all. In his new book, Eagle has provided a remarkably lucid appraisal of the “relational turn” in psychoanalysis as it has departed from Freud's classical oeuvre. This appraisal results in a greater emphasis on divergence than was necessary given the theoretical terrain of the first book.

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