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Lester, E.P. (1992). Reshaping the Psychoanalytic Domain: The Work of Melanie Klein, W. R. D. Fairbairn, and D. W. Winnicott: By Judith M. Hughes. Berkeley, Calif.: Univ. California Press, 1989, 244 pp., $12.95 (paperback).. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 40:936-941.
(1992). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 40:936-941
Reshaping the Psychoanalytic Domain: The Work of Melanie Klein, W. R. D. Fairbairn, and D. W. Winnicott: By Judith M. Hughes. Berkeley, Calif.: Univ. California Press, 1989, 244 pp., $12.95 (paperback).
Review by: Eva P. Lester
In her preface, Hughes, a historian, states as her goal to trace the intellectual shifts and reformulation of basic concepts, during a critical time frame, in the development of psychoanalytic science. She proposes to establish the internal coherence between the work of Klein, Fairbairn, and Winnicott, the three members of the British school of object relations, "the strand of psychoanalysis" as she says, "which constitutes at once the soundest and the most thoroughgoing revision of Freud." Beyond this, Hughes intends to "dispel the air of mystery which surrounds psychoanalysis" created by its "arcane" teminology and by the clinical setting itself, still an "enigma" to the outsider. Hughes refers to her own analytic experience, and this experience may explain her enduring fascination with the clinical setting. It may also, partly, explain the author's difficulty to exercise, on the clinical cases she refers to so extensively, the same critical judgment she offers on theoretical and conceptual issues. Hughes' language is precise and lively, her comments informed and refreshing. It is always intriguing to look at widely accepted psychoanalytic models and concepts, or at celebrated psychoanalytic disputes and wars, through the eyes of social scientists: they point out the inconsistencies, pure speculations, and intansigent posturings; with the same detachment, they underline the enduring values of some basic ideas and the inspired championing of such ideas.
The author draws from a broad and well selected bibliography. The principal authors, Freud, Klein, Fairbairn and Winnicott, are well researched and provide a good part of the book's sources. Several other psychoanalytic writers, historians and critics of psychoanalysis, historians of science and writers from neighboring disciplines are equally cited. The book is addressed to the historian of science, but its analytic theoretical sophistication will make it of value to clinicians and psychoanalytic educators alike.
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