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Hess, N. (2000). Reverie and Interpretation. By Thomas H Ogden. Karnac. Pp 295. £18.95.. Psychoanal. Psychother., 14(3):269-271.

(2000). Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 14(3):269-271

Reverie and Interpretation. By Thomas H Ogden. Karnac. Pp 295. £18.95.

Review by:
Noel Hess

My familiarity with the work of the American analyst Thomas Ogden was mainly from a previous volume, The Primitive Edge of Experience, in which he discusses the psychopathology of schizoid states (and the psychoanalytic literature is surprisingly sparse on this important subject). He also introduces in that and other preceding books, the notion of the ‘autistic-contiguous position’ to explain pre-paranoid-schizoid mental functioning. This is to put the present volume in the context of the development of his work and thought, although this volume is not concerned with that theory (in fact makes only a brief mention of it), though the interest in schizoid states is continued here. What it is concerned with is the detection, analysis, and interpretation of various forms of aliveness and deadness within the analytic interaction.

Ogden is a rather rare bird, being an American analyst clearly influenced in major ways by British Kleinian thought (especially Bion, Segal and Joseph). One of the interesting aspects of reading Ogden's work is seeing how such ideas are received and used in a context away from, and apart from, the somewhat tribal atmosphere which has tended to prevail in this country (even though this has lessened somewhat in recent years). One senses that this absence of tribal affiliations gives the author a greater ability to integrate ideas from across the different schools of thought, and this makes for refreshing reading.

Although six of the eight chapters are papers published previously, between 1995 and 1997, these papers are well integrated into the overall focus of the book, giving it a cohesion unusual in psychoanalytic texts.

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