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Rittenberg, S.M. (1996). By Force of Fantasy. : By Ethel Person. New York: Basic Books. 1995. Pp. 276.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 77:1047-1049.

(1996). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 77:1047-1049

By Force of Fantasy. : By Ethel Person. New York: Basic Books. 1995. Pp. 276.

Review by:
Stephen M. Rittenberg

When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come close to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.

Albert Einstein

It is a regrettable fact of intellectual life near the end of the twentieth century that we are swamped by information while starved for understanding. Psychoanalysis, offspring of the marriage of Western Humanism and Science, is under assault by critics who delight in applying the latest intellectual fads to deconstruct and dismiss the hard-won truths of clinical experience. Under the rubric of ‘post-modernism’, we are daily informed that objectivity and truth are merely expressions of a particular ideological stance, and psychoanalysis a culture-bound relic made up of the biases of a departed age. Einstein and Heisenberg must be spinning in their graves as debased versions of their ideas are regularly cited by those who assert that all knowledge is relative and the quest for scientific truth a hopelessly subjective enterprise. Amongst the many fashionably strident critics of psychoanalysis, articulate ignorance seems to prevail, even while such critics are accorded respectful attention at our conferences and in our journals. One might say of the post-modernists what Dr Johnson said of the Sceptics of his day: ‘Truth, Sir, is a cow, which will yield such people no more milk, and so they are gone to milk the bull’. Within our own field the post-modern turn has yielded a torrential outpouring of jargon and cant.

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