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Friedman, D.D. (1983). Rapprochement. The Critical Subphase of Separation-Individuation. Ruth F. Lax, Sheldon Bach, and J. Alexis Burland (Eds.) New York: Jason Aronson, Inc., 1980. X + 513 pp.. Psychoanal. Rev., 70:135-137.

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(1983). Psychoanalytic Review, 70(1):135-137

Rapprochement. The Critical Subphase of Separation-Individuation. Ruth F. Lax, Sheldon Bach, and J. Alexis Burland (Eds.) New York: Jason Aronson, Inc., 1980. X + 513 pp.

Review by:
Doris Dann Friedman

Just as important psychoanalytical discoveries have invited disciples to expand upon the original concepts, so too has Margaret Mahler's innovative work on autism, symbiosis, and the rapprochement subphase of separation-individuation. Her stature is eminently attested to in this collection, comprised of 23 papers, all but one originally delivered at scientific meetings to celebrate her 80th birthday.

The volume opens with a paper by Mahler (first published in 1972), recapitulating and further elucidating her earlier views on the rapprochement subphase of the separation-individuation process, emphasizing here that she considers “separation and individuation as intertwined developmental processes, rather than as a single process.” Her insights into the preoedipal phase of a child's development and its reverberations on the oedipal conflict have had a pervasive impact, shifting the clinical attention of many of us in the field.

The papers in the volume are almost uniformly noteworthy: informative, probing, provocative, practical. For this reviewer, the second section of the book, in which contributors suggest the compatability of Mahler's observations with psychoanalytic concepts, is the most compelling. It contains, for example, Louise J. Kaplan's cautionary article addressing problems that may arise when one holds onto a rigid notion of classical psychoanalytical theory, and the dangers on the other hand of narrowing one's vision to the preoedipal period. With the knowledge now available about the rapprochement subphase, there has been a tendency among many clinicians working with borderline and narcissistic patients to single out the conflicts and resolutions of this subphase as the central dynamic; others, however, hew to the classical central role of the oedipal complex and neurotic conflict in treating these two

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