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Pollock, G.H. (1994). Validation in the Clinical Theory of Psychoanalysis: A Study in the Philosophy of Psychoanalysis: By Adolf Grünbaum, with an Introduction by Professor Philip S. Holzman. Madison, CT: International Universities Press (Psychological Issues Monograph 61). 1993. Pp. 417.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 75:416-417.

(1994). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 75:416-417

Validation in the Clinical Theory of Psychoanalysis: A Study in the Philosophy of Psychoanalysis: By Adolf Grünbaum, with an Introduction by Professor Philip S. Holzman. Madison, CT: International Universities Press (Psychological Issues Monograph 61). 1993. Pp. 417.

Review by:
George H. Pollock

In a recent review of a book by Adam Phillips, Robert Coles (1993), the well-known child psychiatrist and writer, mentions one of his last conversations with Anna Freud before her death. She told Coles:

We have our way of understanding children, but there are other ways. There are so many things we don't choose to look at closely—even psychological matters of great importance. My father was always, in the beginning, trying to understand what was happening to him in his dreams, or his 'everyday life'. Later, he became more abstract, and I'm afraid many who followed him have forgotten that early, tremendously creative part of his life—in favor of the second part … It would be nice if psychoanalysis had a chance to regress [a wry smile, a twinkle to those tried eyes]—I mean [if it were to show] a greater interest in daily life for its own sake (p. 118).

Coles interpreted these comments to mean, 'let us not always brush aside what happens [phenomenology], in favor of ideas as all that happens, or ideas as the major, if not exclusive, lens for viewing what happens' (p. 118).

This emphasis on things and not just on abstract theoretical propositions that can be applied in Procrustean fashion to observations in and out of the consulting rooms is a 'major pronouncement'. Phillips's volume reminds us, as Coles notes, of 'how self-important and uptight psychoanalytic theorists (among others prone to wordy abstractions) can end up being' (Coles, 1993p. 199).

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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