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Goodman, N.R. (2003). Primitive Mental States, Volume 2: Psychobiological and Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Early Trauma and Personality Development. Edited by Shelley Alhanati. New York: Karnac, 2002, 287 pp., $60.00.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 51(2):674-678.

(2003). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 51(2):674-678

Primitive Mental States, Volume 2: Psychobiological and Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Early Trauma and Personality Development. Edited by Shelley Alhanati. New York: Karnac, 2002, 287 pp., $60.00.

Review by:
Nancy R. Goodman

At the Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, an exhibit takes the viewer on a journey from the skin of a person into the molecular structure of DNA, followed by a shift telescoping out into the solar system and galaxies surrounding the individual. The ten chapters in this collection, the second in a series on primitive states, take readers on a similar journey: first into the detailed activity of affect communication and then into the broader world of biology, neurology, genetics, affect regulation, archeology, and chaos theory. The book' dust jacket shows a thriving toddler atop a depiction of the double helix. While biology is present in the book, for these authors it is the explanatory power of projective identification that is considered the DNA of all communication. Analysts and therapists with other theories of mind may find the ubiquitous presence of this idea a challenge to their reading and yet welcome the fund of knowledge and clinical acuity presented in these chapters.

The authors in this volume are associated with psychoanalytic institutes in California, Argentina, and Spain and find their psychoanalytic home in the ideas of Bion and Klein; they are aware that their ideas are new to many North American readers. It is their explication of recent work on projective identification, along with their integrative approach and the beauty of their clinical descriptions, that will attract readers wanting to understand better how Bionian analysts think and work.

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