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Giuliani, J. (2012). Percorsi di Trasformazione nella Cura Analitica [Transformative Pathways in Analytic Treatment]. By Francesco Mancuso. Rome: Edizioni Borla, 2006, 190 pp.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 60(2):416-421.
(2012). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 60(2):416-421
Percorsi di Trasformazione nella Cura Analitica [Transformative Pathways in Analytic Treatment]. By Francesco Mancuso. Rome: Edizioni Borla, 2006, 190 pp.
Review by: Jack Giuliani
Francesco Mancuso has offered us a vision of a thoughtful integration of some of his most cherished teachers and mentors, a psychoanalytic patrimony he has made his own by virtue of his research, intellectual discipline, and psychoanalytic work in the clinical encounter. He has synthesized a uniquely personal and clinically rich dialogue among several major theorists of development and treatment that convincingly weaves together a freshly contemporary and compelling fabric, integrating the ideas of Freud, Ferenczi, Strachey, Winnicott, and Bion. Mancuso's extensive theoretical reach is in concert with a clinically close embrace of case examples that offer the reader a moving firsthand narrative experience. His thesis rests primarily on a sustained and evocative conversation between his own novel and highly original rereading of the major ideas in Ferenczi's “Confusion of the Tongues between the Adults and the Child” (1933) and Freud's “A Child Is Being Beaten” (1919), which in a later chapter are linked to a reinterpretation of Strachey's technical insights in “The Nature of the Therapeutic Action of Psycho-Analysis” (1934).
In the early chapters, devoted mainly to Ferenczi, Mancuso persuasively establishes an etiological model of a traumatizing, pathological narcissism in a parental adult who is incapable of creating and maintaining the normal developmental gradient of needs whereby the child can depend on the adult to receive, understand, and help transform overwhelming anxieties. Instead, this narcissistically fragile adult sees a precociously competent “wise baby” as available, agreeable, and receptive to being defined and shaped by parental needs, thereby reversing the developmental gradient, perverting the nascent object relationship, and confusing generational boundaries and roles. Ferenczi's contributions, Mancuso underscores, help sharpen our focus on an early dyadic narcissistic pathology: “the excesses of love offered by the adult are not toward a child that is present, but to an idealized child, the object of a narcissistic investment…” (p. 29; translations mine throughout).
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