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Steiner, J. (1993). Un Bouclier Dans L'Economie Des Etats Limites L'Espoir: By Anna Potamianou. Presses Universitaires de France. 1992. Pp. 155. ('Hope: A Shield in the Economics of Borderline States.'). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 74:846-849.

(1993). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 74:846-849

Un Bouclier Dans L'Economie Des Etats Limites L'Espoir: By Anna Potamianou. Presses Universitaires de France. 1992. Pp. 155. ('Hope: A Shield in the Economics of Borderline States.')

Review by:
John Steiner

We are so accustomed to think of hope as a good thing that the reader may be startled, to begin with, by the central idea of this book, namely that hope can function as a type of character armour (a protective shield) which keeps reality at bay and allows the patient's suffering and masochism to flourish. The author addresses the problem of waiting and finds that in both normal and neurotic individuals hope can be a positive influence, sustaining a link with the good object and making waiting more bearable. In borderline patients, however, it can be the very opposite and serve as an expression of the patient's narcissistic self-sufficiency. In these cases waiting is made bearable by recourse to omnipotence, which is sustained by hope. For those patients whose attention is focused on a future which is always 'to come', the present has only secondary importance, so suffering is tolerated in the hope that a due reward will make it all worthwhile. In this way, hope supports and prolongs the masochistic stance; Potamianou describes the various ways it may do this.

Even the reader with only rudimentary French will find something of value in this book. The author is a member of the Greek Psychoanalytic Study Group but trained in Paris and is also a member of the Paris Psychoanalytic Society. The French emphasis is evident throughout the book and makes it suitable for analysts who want to improve their understanding of how our colleagues across the Channel work and think.

In the introduction, the author describes how in normal individuals hope functions as a link with the good object and rests on a self-image stable enough to wait for the object to reappear.

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