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Ablon, S.L. (1994). Psychoanalytic Theories of Affect. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 75:640-643.

(1994). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 75:640-643

Psychoanalytic Theories of Affect

Review by:
Steven Luria Ablon

By Ruth Stein. New York/Westport, CT/London; Praeger. 1991. Pp. 220 + xiv.

The Emotional Tie: Psychoanalysis, Mimesis and Affect. By Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. 1992. Pp. 199 + viii.

A theory of emotions is essential to an understanding of human thought and behaviour. Affect is fundamental to being human and feelings express the experiential domain of mental life. Affect is central to every part of clinical psychoanalysis and psychoanalytically-informed therapies, including concepts such as defence, communication, signal, conflict, motivation, self-states, transference and somatic experiences, to mention only a few. From the beginning of life the affective dialogue between the infant and the caretakers is the bedrock of the infant's interpersonal world, sense of self and experience with the external world. We rely on feelings to evaluate authenticity, and to assess and link inner and outer reality. At the same time feelings infuse, organise and create our observations.

These two books are part of an explosion of interest, research, and writing about affect. They are quite different and both are interesting and valuable. Since affect is so omnipresent in human experience each contribution focuses on a few elements, constellations in a universe. In addition, theoretical writing about affect has inherent limitations since it is only one channel for experiencing this information and does not access other domains such as physical experience, theatre, poetry or relationships.

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