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Caligor, E. (1994). The Independent Mind in British Psychoanalysis: By Eric Rayner. Northvale, NJ: Aronson, 1991, 345 pp., $40.00.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 42:308-311.

(1994). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 42:308-311

The Independent Mind in British Psychoanalysis: By Eric Rayner. Northvale, NJ: Aronson, 1991, 345 pp., $40.00.

Review by:
Eve Caligor, M.D.

The British Middle Group, or Independents as the group later came to be known, was formally established in the mid-1940's. At that time the British Psycho-analytical Society was torn by heated disputes between the followers of Anna Freud and those of Melanie Klein. For the purposes of training and administration, the members of the Society were formally divided into three groups: the Kleinians, the Anna Freudians, referred to as the "B" group, and the majority who wished to affiliate with neither, referred to as the "Middle" group. Thus, the Independents began and have continued as a loose association of analysts, unified not by a single theoretical orientation, but rather by a wish to maintain an open-minded and independent stance. As a group they have sought to integrate the contributions of Melanie Klein and object-relations theory into classical psychoanalysis while including their own ideas as well as those coming from other parts of the world. Over the years, these efforts have led to many significant and at times controversial contributions, and it these that Eric Rayner seeks to document in his book.

Rayner presents the contributions of the British Independents, past to present, to various lines of psychoanalytic inquiry. The book is carefully researched and clearly written. It reads much like an intellectual history, as Rayner traces the development of various lines of thinking and relates them to the history of psychoanalysis and to the greater culture from which they emerged.

The Independent Mind in British Psychoanalysis begins with a brief history of the British Psycho-analytical Society and the founding of the Middle group. Rayner then focuses, chapter by chapter, on topics of particular interest to the Independents and to which they have made significant contributions. Each chapter begins with a review of the contributions of Freud and Klein on that topic. Rayner presents the material in even-handed and straightforward fashion. He then summarizes the work of Independent analysts in chronological order. There are six chapters on theory that cover affect, symbolization, creativity and dreams, development in relation to libido, development in relation to the environment, and character.

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