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Smith, J.H. (1993). Relational Concepts in Psychoanalysis: An Integration: By Stephen A. Mitchell. Cambridge, MA: Havard Univ. Press, 1988, xii + 326 pp., $27.50.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 41:277-281.

(1993). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 41:277-281

Relational Concepts in Psychoanalysis: An Integration: By Stephen A. Mitchell. Cambridge, MA: Havard Univ. Press, 1988, xii + 326 pp., $27.50.

Review by:
Joseph H. Smith, M.D.

For those familiar with Greenberg and Mitchell's Object Relations in Psychoanalytic Theory(1983), the title of Mitchell's new book might imply that the "drive/structure" theoretical model had been vanquished by the prior book so that this one could take the obvious next step of integrating relational concepts variously formulated in interpersonal, object-relational, and self-psychological terms. Mitchell attempts to clinch this impression by invoking Kuhn (1962).

Psychoanalytic theories of the past several decades have undergone what Kuhn … calls a paradigm shift. The very boundaries around the subject matter of psychoanalysis have been redrawn, and that broad reframing has had profound implications for both theory and practice. Mind has been redefined from a set of predetermined structures emerging from inside an individual organism to transactional patterns and internal structures derived from an interactive, interpersonal field [p. 17].

I rather agree with the drift of this passage, but I would not call the changes that have been wrought anything so grand as a paradigm shift, nor would I characterize drive theory as grounded in "a set of predetermined structures emerging from inside an individual organism." The latter is what Mitchell (p. 5) calls "a monadic theory of mind … sometimes characterized as a one-person rather than a two-person psychology" (Rickman, 1957); (Model, 1984). In any event, one could take Mitchell's introduction and first chapter ("The Relational Matrix") as simply a recapitulation of the argument of Object Relations in Psychoanalytic Theory (that "drive theory is unified, comprehensive, and outdated") as preliminary staging for his new goal of a "selective" and "critical" integration in which the various relational theories would be "developed into a coherent, comprehensive theoretical framework" (p.

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