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Rendon, M. (2008). Beyond the Reflection. The Role of the Mirror Paradigm in Clinical Practice, Paulina Kernberg, M.D., written in collaboration with Berbadette Buhl-Nielsen, M.D. and Lina Mormandin, Ph.D., Other Press, New York, 2007, 211 pp.. Am. J. Psychoanal., 68(3):307-308.
(2008). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 68(3):307-308
Beyond the Reflection. The Role of the Mirror Paradigm in Clinical Practice, Paulina Kernberg, M.D., written in collaboration with Berbadette Buhl-Nielsen, M.D. and Lina Mormandin, Ph.D., Other Press, New York, 2007, 211 pp.
Review by: Mario Rendon, M.D.
This unfortunately posthumously published book is a gem and a must for all interested in the phenomena of Self and mirroring. It is the product of Dr. Kernberg and collaborators' research for over a decade. The book is well organized, easy to read, and it combines theory with research in clinical work with children and adolescents. Cartoons add some levity to a very serious subject.
The introduction of the book explores the meaning of mirrors through linguistic and literary perspectives. It includes Lacan's mirror theory summarized, in which he wanted to illustrate the human-chimpanzee bifurcation in self-apprehension in the mirror, a foundation of the self. The following chapters discuss parallels between maternal and mirror function, diverse maternal interaction styles and their relationship to mirror interaction, and attachment styles and mirror interaction. It also describes theoretical approaches to the issue of mirror behavior along with clinical observations and developmental studies. For the research part, the authors use the Kernberg Mirror Behavior Checklist.
The germ of the project is Kernberg's clinical observation, in the context of teaching attachment, of a 21-month girl that, upon her mother leaving, instead of running to search after her, clung and tried to get into a large mirror in the office. Kernberg thought that the girl was behaving as if the mirror was a substitute for the mother. The theoretical foundation draws also from two main sources: Mahler's separationindividuation theory and attachment theory.
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