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Kalinich, L.J. (1994). Theaters of the Body: By Joyce McDougall. New York: Norton, 1989, 183 pp., $22.95.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 42:258-260.

(1994). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 42:258-260

Theaters of the Body: By Joyce McDougall. New York: Norton, 1989, 183 pp., $22.95.

Review by:
Lila J. Kalinich

Joyce McDougall has ventured again upon the very terrain where angels fear to tread. Writing within a psychiatric climate that tends to reject psychosomatic models of disease out of hand (North, 1990), she relentlessly pursues the psychoanalytic imperative to understand the speaking organism that constitutes man's alloyed and indivisible condition. Building upon decades of interest, McDougall dedicates an entire book to a topic that occupied the periphery of her earlier explorations of the vast tapestry of analyzability. In Theaters of the Body, she undertakes to unravel the weave at the mind-body interface, that very boundary found so compelling by Freud.

McDougall takes to be psychosomatic all maladies that use the body for expression without apparent mediation through conscious or preconscious thought. As such, the set is an extensive one. She includes the psychophysiologic disturbances that number among F. Alexander's original seven, functional disturbances without organic pathology, rashes, coronaries, flus, drug and sexual addictions, accident proneness, and all actions that serve to disperse the impact of affect states before they can be rendered meaningful. She carefully distinguishes them from neurotic manifestations, as in the conversion hysteric, in which the imaginary body plays a symbolic role. She is concerned instead with the actual body, and in this sense stands in theoretical continuity with Freud's conception of the "actual neuroses." Her field of interest ranges, in fact, to all nonverbal communications or events that tend to escape the psychoanalytic process.

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