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Vaines, S. (2012). Created in Our Own Images.com W. S. Gilbert's ‘Pygmalion and Galatea’: An introduction to the art, ethics and science of cloning, edited by Fred M. Sander, M.D., International Psychoanalytic Books, 2010.. Cpl. Fam. Psychoanal., 2(2):258-261.

(2012). Couple and Family Psychoanalysis, 2(2):258-261

Created in Our Own Images.com W. S. Gilbert's ‘Pygmalion and Galatea’: An introduction to the art, ethics and science of cloning, edited by Fred M. Sander, M.D., International Psychoanalytic Books, 2010.

Review by:
Stella Vaines

This book was published to mark the centenary of the New York Psychoanalytic Institute. Fred Sander has revived W. S. Gilbert's version of the Pygmalion myth as the focus for an imaginative exploration of man's ever-evolving quest to recreate versions of others, and perhaps ourselves, as we might choose them to be. It is an ingenious device for linking seven essays from different modalities ranging from art and gender roles, to cloning, stem-cell research, and psychoanalysis.

Fred Sander, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Weill-Cornell Medical School, has practiced as a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst since the early 1960s, with a particular interest in analytically-oriented couple and family therapy. He was attracted to the Pygmalion myth because it expresses so aptly, the seemingly ubiquitous narcissistic transferences that characterise interpersonal relationships, particularly those in couples and families. He suggests that Gilbert's play, written when Freud was fifteen years old, anticipates twentieth century psychoanalysis, and also resonates metaphorically with the discovery of stem cells and the subsequent explosion of genomic medicine and research in the twenty-first century.

W. S. Gilbert's 1871 comic verse play is reproduced in full, and it is a delight to read. Gilbert's telling of the story differs somewhat from Ovid's first written version of the myth. Unlike Ovid's Pygmalion, who marries and lives happily ever after with his statue-come-to-life, Gilbert's character is an Athenian sculptor whose beautiful, but childless, wife Cynisca has been his model and his muse.

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