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Blos, P., Jr. (1993). The Trauma of Transgression: Psychotherapy of Incest Victims: Edited by Selma Kramer and Salman Akhtar. Northvale, New Jersey and London: Jason Aronson. 1991. Pp. 186 + xii.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 74:425-428.

(1993). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 74:425-428

The Trauma of Transgression: Psychotherapy of Incest Victims: Edited by Selma Kramer and Salman Akhtar. Northvale, New Jersey and London: Jason Aronson. 1991. Pp. 186 + xii.

Review by:
Peter Blos, Jr.

The Trauma Of Transgression renders into published form the Twenty-first Annual Margaret S. Mahler Symposium on Child Development, held on 19 May 1990, in Philadelphia. In content, style and manner of presentation, it effectively recreates the symposium atmosphere and draws the reader into active intellectual participation in the developing dialogue between presenters and discussants. Throughout, the focus is on the insights which a psychoanalytic treatment approach with particular emphasis on separation-individuation can bring to understanding the effect actual incest experience has upon the victim and, to some extent, upon the perpetrator. Given the provenance of this volume, the primacy of Margaret Mahler's developmental formulation is not surprising. However, the three presenters—Brandt Steele, Marvin Margolis, and Maurice Apprey—are not as fully committed to the heuristic value of Mahler's theory as are their discussants, Ruth M. A. Fischer, Salman Akhtar, M. Hossein Etezady and Selma Kramer. Thus, the volume achieves diversity, and the overall approach to understanding the trauma of incest remains a broadly based psychoanalytic one.

One consequence of the dialectic tension between the several approaches offered is the highlighting of both the contributions and shortcomings of separation-individuation theory—an important, if perhaps inadvertent, contribution to the further development of psychoanalytic theory and knowledge. At the present time, it seems fair to say that separation-individuation theory usefully calls attention to the rapprochement subphase as one critical dynamic element in the development of an object-relations vulnerability. However, as an explanation it is insufficient.

There

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