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Pulver, S.E. (1994). Psychic Equilibrium and Psychic Change: Selected Papers of Betty Joseph: Edited by Elizabeth Bott Spillius and Michael Feldman. New York: Tavistock/Routledge, 1989, 230 pp., $67.00 (paperback, $17.95).. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 42:287-292.

(1994). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 42:287-292

Psychic Equilibrium and Psychic Change: Selected Papers of Betty Joseph: Edited by Elizabeth Bott Spillius and Michael Feldman. New York: Tavistock/Routledge, 1989, 230 pp., $67.00 (paperback, $17.95).

Review by:
Sydney E. Pulver, M.D.

In her Preface, Hanna Segal states, "her papers, though dense and difficult, are understandable and appealing to analysts not otherwise familiar with the Kleinian approach."

Here is a case vignette from the book: B. came into analysis worried that his relationship with his wife was unsatisfactory to her; he himself "… did not see anything particularly wrong with it. He seemed a very decent man, basically honest, immature, and terribly lacking awareness of himself and his feelings. It soon seemed that he unconsciously wanted an analysis in which things would be explained in relation to the outside world, not experienced in the transference." At first he would go blank in response to interpretations. He seemed to "… become anxious, break up his mind, stop being able to listen or hold together what we were discussing. This began to improve. Slowly I gained the feeling that I was supposed to follow him, almost pursue him with interpretations," while he remained basically uninterested. "It was as if it was I who wanted him to use … the analysis …, just as it was his wife who wanted him to have the analysis and who was worried about the marriage. So we could see that the active, alert, wanting part of himself was split off and apparently projected into me and he remained passive and inert" (p. 145).

I picked this vignette because it seemed to me typical of what one encounters in this book: clinical illustrations of situations we are all familiar with, explained dynamically in Kleinian terms, but done in such a way that we non-Kleinians understand them, sense that we can use them, and often, at least speaking for myself, find them inspirational.

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