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Levenson, E.A. (1975). Transforming. Contemp. Psychoanal., 11:377-381.

(1975). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 11:377-381


Review by:
Edgar A. Levenson, M.D.

David Shainberg: The Transforming Self, New Dimensions in Psychoanalytic Process. New York: Intercontinental Medical Book Corporation, 1973. 138 pages.

DR. SHAINBERG HAS WRITTEN A BRILLIANT, complex and difficult book which proffers a solid theoretical and clinical basis for those psychoanalytic psychotherapies predicated on man's emergence, his drive towards a more creative and self-realized life. This is Shainberg's view of the life process and of the therapeutic encounter; that is, it is the function of the therapist to facilitate this intrinsic development. Until fairly recently, this viewpoint seemed necessarily based on faith, on a humanistic belief in man's self-emergence. Hard scientific "fact" suggested a grimmer world-view. Psychoanalytic theory as Kris has said, saw human behavior as conflict. The idea that man might indeed have (as Shainberg puts it), "an eternal wish to have a life which is meaningful, " a drive towards self-articulation and increasing humanness, seemed at worst a soppy utopianism or perhaps a variety of Christian mysticism which could be ignored because it was in the enemy camp.

Scientific life has now become somewhat more complicated, and hard-nosed scientists are finding themselves talking in terms they would have reserved for Sunday sermons a few years before. There has been an extensive change in scientific paradigm. Systems theory and structuralist theory support a viewpoint of the "open system" in which the organism does move in a pseudoteleological direction, always towards more complexity (negative entropy). This behavior is not purposeful in the old teleological sense, but it is, nevertheless, organized and systematic.

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