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Vincent, C. (2015). Fairbairn and the Object Relations Tradition, edited by Graham S. Clarke and David E. Scharff, Karnac, 2014. Cpl. Fam. Psychoanal., 5(2):217-219.

(2015). Couple and Family Psychoanalysis, 5(2):217-219

Book Reviews

Fairbairn and the Object Relations Tradition, edited by Graham S. Clarke and David E. Scharff, Karnac, 2014

Review by:
Christopher Vincent

I approached this book with curiosity and trepidation. My curiosity was stimulated by a wish to understand better Fairbairn's contribution to psychoanalytic theory which I have always found difficult to “get”. My problem was partly due to his writing style which, as a trainee therapist, I found to be overly theoretical and dense. A second and related problem, shared with my reading of Klein, was in understanding a baffling mixture of terms that paid homage to the drive theory of Freud, while seeking to advance the radical concepts at the heart of the object relations approach. My trepidation in offering to review this book was its size. It is a book of encyclopaedic scope comprising thirty-eight chapters divided into four sections—“historical”, “clinical”, “theoretical”, and “applications”.

My approach to reviewing the book developed in an iterative way. The editors' introduction to the book sets out the vast theoretical, clinical, and cultural landscape that the chapters cover; and, like a traveller with wanderlust, I have traversed the landscape, sometimes retracing my steps as I have tried to gain a familiarity with and an in-depth knowledge of my surroundings. I have read chapters from all four sections, some more than once when their focus and style has grabbed my attention and interests—interests that are heavily influenced by my work as a couple psychotherapist.

The book is built upon two intersecting axes.

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