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Auerbach, J.S. (2021). Minding Emotions: Cultivating Mentalization in Psychotherapy, by Elliot Jurist, New York, NY: Guilford, 2018, xv + 200 pp., $30.00. Psychoanal. Psychol., 38(1):79-87.

(2021). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 38(1):79-87

Book Reviews

Minding Emotions: Cultivating Mentalization in Psychotherapy, by Elliot Jurist, New York, NY: Guilford, 2018, xv + 200 pp., $30.00

Review by:
John S. Auerbach, Ph.D.

One of the ironies of psychoanalytic history is that emotion is now considered a central term in psychoanalytic theory, but this was not always the case. To be sure, Freud's writings contain numerous references to emotion or, more frequently, affect, but in my reading, affect was always derivative of other terms of the Freudian metapsychology, such as drive, pleasure principle, psychic energy, discharge, cathexis, and so forth, because affects were essentially discharge phenomena—either pleasurable when a drive impulse was successfully discharged or painful when drive discharge failed (Freud, 1915/1957a, 1915/1957b). Unlike other mental phenomena, affects in Freud's view lacked the intentionality, the aboutness, that Freud received as a concept from his philosophical teacher Brentano (1924/2015; see Wakefield, 1991) and were a subsidiary manifestation, an epiphenomenon, the result of energy discharge; it was not until fairly late in his career, therefore, that Freud began to comment on affects as communicative, either to others (Freud, 1921/1955) via nonverbal channels or within oneself (Freud, 1926/1959) as signal affects. It appears to be Sullivan (1940/1947, 1953) who, by making anxiety central to mother-infant communication, initiated the slow transformation of psychoanalysis from a drive psychology to an affect psychology. Although it is therefore an important historical development, the specific details of which I shall not discuss here, that most of our present theoretical discourse is about affects, feelings, and emotions, rather than about drives, the various developmental theories of Stern, Beebe, the Boston Change Process Study Group, and, of course, the group around Peter Fonagy all depend on the central role of affective communication.

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