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Sennton, O. (1980). Människa och ting: Stefi Pedersen. Stockholm: Wahlström & Widstrand 1978. Scand. Psychoanal. Rev., 3(2):120-121.

(1980). Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 3(2):120-121

Människa och ting: Stefi Pedersen. Stockholm: Wahlström & Widstrand 1978

Review by:
Olena Sennton

Man and Thing is the literal translation of the title of this book. As in her former book “Psychoanalysis in our time” (now available only in English) the author again adopts the essay to express her views. The subtitle of the book is “Essays on psychoanalysis and human rights”.

The author taking the documents on human rights as her starting point makes an important contribution to the understanding of psychoanalysis. The essence of the book emphasises how respect for the integrity of the individual was, from the beginning, an indispensable component of psychoanalysis. In her pertinent way she exemplifies her thesis by relating an episode from Freud's early visit to Paris. Attending the lectures of professor Bernheim at La Salpetriere he witnessed a distressed female patient refusing to be hypnotized. While the famous Bernheim was furious at being hindered in his work, Freud empathized with the patient. She was within her rights in defending her integrity by her refusal, was his silent thought.

Linguistic studies are among the author's focal interests. In her essay on “Language and human rights” she presents impressive illustrations of the intimate link between language and identity. Implicitly, she touches upon Freud's theory about the close relationship between drives and thoughts, often neglected in current discussions on object relations.

In the essay “On poverty” the author illustrates the consequences of the lack of an adequate language by describing the verbal poverty within socially degraded slum populations. In her interesting essay on the borderline personality she draws a parallel between the verbal poverty of borderline families and their replacing of verbal communication with bodily manipulation of the child.

The final essay of the book “Human rights and the object/task of psychoanalysis” is a significant contribution to the persistent debate on emancipation versus manipulation.

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