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Pao, P. (1970). Conflict and Reconciliation: A Study in Human Relations and Schizophrenia: By Helm Stierlin. New York: Science House. 1969. Pp. 267.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 51:91-92.

(1970). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 51:91-92

Conflict and Reconciliation: A Study in Human Relations and Schizophrenia: By Helm Stierlin. New York: Science House. 1969. Pp. 267.

Review by:
Ping-Nie Pao

Helm Stierlin has dedicated many years of his time and energy to the understanding and treatment of schizophrenic patients. He is now presenting to us his hard-earned knowledge in this book. It is a small book for 'problems of staggering complexity', as he aptly describes what is implied in the understanding and the treatment of schizophrenic patients; yet it does cover the essentials of the topic. While Dr Stierlin's orientation is primarily ego-psychological and object-relational, his style of presentation is phenomenological. In this book, Dr Stierlin demonstrates his familiarity with literature and existential philosophy. In amalgamating various viewpoints a purist may not feel happy at times but after he reads the whole book he will find how he has been enlightened by Dr Stierlin's clarity in the presentation of issues and enriched by his bold and original formulations.

In conceptualizing conflict and reconciliation as central to human adaptation and growth, Dr Stierlin considers schizophrenia essentially as an adaptive failure, reflecting unsuccessful or aborted reconciliations on several levels. While a satisfactory motherchild transaction in the first three years of a child's life facilitates the child's 'quest to be one and the same' and subsequently his 'quest to be one and different', a disturbed motherchild transaction, on the other hand, interferes with these quests by the child and results in the development, on the child's part, of such unhealthy adaptive or 'survival strategies' as 'self-sufficient restriction' (pattern of isolation) and 'conflictual entanglement' (striving for symbiotic relationship).

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