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Stensson, J. (2014). Eden Halt. An Antrim Memoir. Int. Forum Psychoanal., 23(3):189-190.

(2014). International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 23(3):189-190

BOOK REVIEW

Eden Halt. An Antrim Memoir

Jan Stensson

Hermeneutics, or interpretation, is said to be both an art and a science. As analysts, we are well aware of all pitfalls we may stumble into when we listen to our analysands. In addition, when we read psychoanalytic texts, we apply hermeneutic principles more or less consciously. This is not the place to discuss the extensive literature on hermeneutics. Instead, I will restrict myself to reminding myself of Ricoeur's admonition to read with a healthy measure of suspicion, knowing how easy it is to be seduced into self-deception by self-interest. Maybe another reader would find another story.

The editors of this journal have asked me to review what in effect is a self-biographic text. Now, there are in my knowledge not many biographies written by psychoanalysts, and if they exist, I think they are seldom reviewed in psychoanalytic journals. So we may wonder why Ross Skelton has written a self-biographic book, why he has submitted it for review, and why I have decided to accept to write a review and submit it to the journal for publication.

To the first question, I can imagine that there are many layers of motivation. One obvious one may be a need to bring together the fragments of his life history to form a coherent narrative that may give an understanding and explanation for how his life has unfolded.

Another reason may be a wish to show himself to be a competent writer. Ross's father was unsuccessful in his attempts to make a living for his family as a writer. As he did not give up his ambitions, the result was that the family had to move from relative comfort to a poor and exposed living on the shore of Antrim.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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