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Levy, S.T. (1993). Introduction to Psychodynamics: A New Synthesis. By Mardi J. Horowitz. New York: Basic Books, 1988, xii + 255 pp., $22.95.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 41:304-306.

(1993). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 41:304-306

Introduction to Psychodynamics: A New Synthesis. By Mardi J. Horowitz. New York: Basic Books, 1988, xii + 255 pp., $22.95.

Review by:
Steven T. Levy, M.D.

Horowitz, one of our most respected psychoanalytic researchers, has written a text that attempts to integrate psychoanalytic theory with elements drawn from cognitive psychology, information theory, and new developments in neurobiology. His intent is an ambitious one, one in which he emphasizes the organization of mental content and its impact on conscious experience, particularly feeling states. He writes within a framework that attempts to maintain the salient contributions of more traditional psychoanalytic theory while avoiding those contemporary psychoanalytic views he feels are unwieldy and better replaced by concepts drawn from cognitive psychology and information theory. The work is intended as an introductory text for students in the mental health field that will nonetheless be of interest to more experienced clinicians and theorists.

The text is organized into two large sections. The beginning chapters entitled "Schemas of Self and Others," introduce the conceptual building blocks for Horowitz's theory of psychodynamics. These include states of mind, schemas, role relationship models, personality styles, unconscious scripts, working models of situations, organizations of schema, as well as many traditional psychoanalytic concepts. The author discusses how an individual attempts to reduce stress, avoid unpleasurable or otherwise dreaded states of mind, and improve adaptation to inner and outer realities.

In the second part, "Conscious and Unconscious Mental Processes," the author examines how enduring conflicts between wishes and fears, "influence perception, thinking, feeling and one's choice of a course of action" (p. 7). There are extended discussions of consciousness, unconscious mental processes, mechanisms of defense, and an examination of clinical material in relation to the neurotic styles the author refers to respectively as histrionic and obsessional.

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