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Case, L. (2009). False Self: The Life of Masud Khan By Linda Hopkins, New York: Other Press, 2006. 525 pp.. Fort Da, 15(2):108-118.

(2009). Fort Da, 15(2):108-118

False Self: The Life of Masud Khan By Linda Hopkins, New York: Other Press, 2006. 525 pp.

Reviewed by
Laurie Case, Ph.D.

In 2001, the British Psycho-Analytical Society was rocked by the publication of Wynne Godley's scathing account of his own analysis with Masud Khan, “Saving Masud Khan.” Khan's transgressions were multiple and egregious. They included evening card parties and the suggestion that Godley, who was married, embark on an affair with another of Khan's patients. When the article appeared, more than a dozen years had passed since Khan's death and his expulsion from the Society. By that time it had become common knowledge that Khan had flouted convention and committed ethical violations. The consternation stemmed primarily from Godley's revelations concerning Winnicott's apparent complicity with Khan's destructive behavior.

Godley claimed that Winnicott and Khan talked on the phone during his sessions and that Khan had encouraged Godley to begin a correspondence with Winnicott. Later, learning that Khan was actually Winnicott's analysand at the time of these exchanges, Godley came to view them as “an aggressive flirtation between the two of them, using my body as unwitting intermediary” (Godley, 2001, cited in A. Sandler, 2004, p. 32). Godley's allegations led the Society to conduct an ethics investigation of both Khan and Winnicott. The findings were reviewed by Anne-Marie Sandler in her 2004 paper, “Institutional Responses to Boundary Violations: The Case of Masud Khan.” Sandler suggests that Khan's unethical behavior could be understood as the product of the transgenerational submission of boundary violations: that Winnicott's inappropriate behavior in relation to Khan paved the way for Khan's own lapses. She criticizes Winnicott for publicly promoting Khan's career while Khan was his analysand, for failing to analyze Khan's perverse narcissistic character, and for collaborating with Khan on writing projects throughout their clinical relationship.

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