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Hanly, M.F. (1998). Psychoanalysis and Development: Representations and Narratives. Edited by M. Ammaniti and D. Stern. New York: New York University Press, 1994, 212 pp., 55.00.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 46(1):293-297.

(1998). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 46(1):293-297


Psychoanalysis and Development: Representations and Narratives. Edited by M. Ammaniti and D. Stern. New York: New York University Press, 1994, 212 pp., 55.00.

Review by:
Margaret Ann Fitzpatrick Hanly

Some intense crosscurrents of contemporary thought on the nature of psychoanalytic knowledge (hermeneutic or scientific), and on the “representability” of primitive affects and the consequent data for psychoanalytic research, are presented in this volume of essays. The editors' bias is clearly on the hermeneutic side of the controversy on narrative. Ending their introductory collage of views on representation, narrative, and research, with quotations from Bruner, Feldman, Nelson, and Calvino, the editors endorse a “perspectivistic,” “relativistic,” “anthropomorphic” view of reality. The problem with this editorial leaning is that no serious argument is presented in the introduction to support or question it. Indeed, Ammaniti's account of his own research exists squarely in a scientific realist perspective. And several essays that use the language of “narrative” do so superficially; they in fact fall, implicitly at least, within the scientific realist framework, their authors having not actually engaged any of the defining issues in the debates. Only in the final two essays of the collection, by Genovese and Mancia, are the debates seriously taken up, with the result that the scientific realist perspective is given a strong confirmation.

The contending sides in both debates, on narrative and on representability, are most clearly articulated by Genovese (“The Problem of Representability”). He notes that, with respect to the problem of representation, the debate “has a clinical-developmental nature”: the concern here is on “the relationship between affects, representations, and language, as it is organized in the different stages of life” (p. 175). Genovese's position is that the infant in the first months of life “lacks the sense of continuity of self” and thus also lacks “the comparative and discriminative function that represents a presupposition of representability” (p. 182).

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