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Haynal, A. (1994). Slouching Towards Bethlehem … And Further Psychoanalytic Explorations: By Nina Coltart. London: Free Association Books. 1992. Pp. 200.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 75:425-426.

(1994). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 75:425-426

Slouching Towards Bethlehem … And Further Psychoanalytic Explorations: By Nina Coltart. London: Free Association Books. 1992. Pp. 200.

Review by:
André Haynal

This is a volume of collected papers, written by a psychoanalyst who feels herself to be 'nearing the end of [her] practice' (p. 85). This wonderful little book impresses by the sincerity of its prose, written in a clear, limpid style with a very thrifty use of technical terms: a very pleasant non-conformist report about not only the author's psychoanalytical but also her personal, human experiences. From her perspective, clearly, the two cannot be dissociated: she believes 'in the necessity for developing our own personal philosophy of life and hence of work and of treatment, if we are to work steadily in this strange job for many years' (p. 89). Belief, or, more exactly, 'faith' plays an important role in her reflections. In the first place 'faith … in the extraordinary process which we help to create—psychoanalysis, and in ourselves as, "avoiding memory and desire", we sit out the mysterious process day by day' (p. 90). Her concept of 'faith', as this quotation shows, is reminiscent of that of Bion and she also, occasionally, makes explicit references to Bion's thinking.

There is no vain chatter here about countertransference, but a personal, deeply-felt and lived view of psychoanalysis as it is really practised, unclouded by references to the analyst's feelings and sometimes even to her more or less 'appropriate' interventions.

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