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Nachmani, G. (2008). Cumulative Self: A review of False Self: The Life of Masud Khan, by Linda Hopkins. New York: Other Press, 2006, 525 pp.. Contemp. Psychoanal., 44(3):497-507.

(2008). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 44(3):497-507

Cumulative Self: A review of False Self: The Life of Masud Khan, by Linda Hopkins. New York: Other Press, 2006, 525 pp.

Review by:
Gilead Nachmani, Ph.D.

False Self is certainly a taunting, if not provocatively suggestive and conclusive, title for a biography of a psychoanalyst. One first gets the “clue,” the hunch that what is known about the man, Masud Khan, is not true to him, as in “True Self,” but is instead what Khan unconsciously felt was narcissistically demanded of him by his not-so-caregiving parents of origin, and later his hypocritically narcissistic caregiving “mother-land,” his new-found-land, Great Britain, and adoptive Training parents of the British Psycho-Analytical Institute and Society.

False Self, a term that Khan helped to define and develop with Winnicott, is a state of compliance and compromise that is exhibitionistically shown in an “I-will-be-as-you-wish-me” self-presentation, a state of being in which one is recognized not for one's own authentic self, but for what the other demands or insists on. Considered from a developmental object relations perspective, False Self is the desperate attachment of a totally dependent infant on a conditionally approving caregiver. It is not clear that the caregiver gives care. It is clearer that the caregiver demands it. We know that simply to survive an infant needs a good external object to intro-ject and internalize. The child's very development depends on it.

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