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Post, S.L. (1987). The British School of Psychoanalysis: The Independent Tradition: Edited by Gregorio Kohon. New Haven/London: Yale University Press. 1986. Pp. 429. (Also London: Free Association Books.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 68:432-433.

(1987). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 68:432-433

The British School of Psychoanalysis: The Independent Tradition: Edited by Gregorio Kohon. New Haven/London: Yale University Press. 1986. Pp. 429. (Also London: Free Association Books.)

Review by:
Stephen L. Post

This volume is a collection of articles, all but one previously published, preceded by an extended editorial introduction. Given this fact, one might not expect much that is new. Add to that the problem presented by the idea of an 'independent tradition', which could mean as little as a shared refusal to be anything but individualistic or eclectic, and one could mistakenly conclude that this is little more than another compendium of excellent articles. If, however, one considers this book as a unit, it becomes apparent that the format chosen by the editor may be the best way to present his subject.

Kohon's prologue, clearly and simply describing the history of psychoanalysis in Great Britain, and within it the origins and substance of the independent tradition, explains why. The expression 'independent tradition', he observes, is in some ways a contradiction in terms, since tradition implies dependence. The paradox is resolved in the telling of how it came about: 'independent' denotes non-membership in the Kleinian group of British psychoanalysts, on the one hand, and in the 'B' group, adhering to the theories of Anna Freud, on the other; 'tradition' implies not just this commitment to non-alignment, but also a fundamental—though not uncritical—reliance on Sigmund Freud, not to mention dispositions in common toward individualism, eclecticism and/or idiosyncrasy. Beyond these qualities, Kohon describes a number of contributions and attributes shared by many of these middle-group analysts: delineation and development of the theory of object relations; investigation—often through adult analysis—into early child development, along with a corresponding interest and skill in the analysis of extremely disturbed patients; a disposition towards clinical theory rather than metapsychology; acceptance of theoretical uncertainty as well as ultimate uncertainty regarding any individual; attention to the emotional responses of the analyst together with an interest in intersubjectivity and countertransference (including an ambivalent proximity in theory and practice to Melanie Klein's concept of projective identification); extreme respect for the uniqueness of the patient and a corresponding distaste for uniform rules of technique; and a mistrust of authoritarianism and postures of infallibility.

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