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Weil, D. (1996). La Consolation [Consolation]. : By J. Hochmann. Paris: Odile Jacob. 1994. Pp. 328.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 77:1254-1255.

(1996). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 77:1254-1255

La Consolation [Consolation]. : By J. Hochmann. Paris: Odile Jacob. 1994. Pp. 328.

Review by:
Denise Weil

This book by Jacques Hochmann, professor of psychiatry and psychoanalyst (Member of the Paris Psychoanalytical Society), with its fine title La consolation, is an essay on mental health care. It is both a meditation and a reflection on the practice of psychiatry and on the influences to which it and the author himself have been exposed in the particularly fruitful period of the last thirty years. This journey is examined with a critical eye, revealing a man of great culture and humanity. As a neurologist and psychoanalyst who has explored the new Californian therapies, and a committed protagonist of community psychiatry, he knows the reality of institutional practices and typical forms of treatment, and therefore distrusts all forms of dogmatism. His route is illustrated at every stage by histories of patients as persons, rather than ‘clinical vignettes’, in which he himself is involved; they are punctuated with his reflections and indeed his self-analysis. The diary kept by the author during an extreme experience with psychopaths is a rare document. Above all, however, in proceeding in this way he dismantles not only simplifying ideologies but also improper conceptualisations, demonstrating the underlying countertransference manifestations.

Some of the chapters bear witness to the author's original experience—of working with families in their own homes, of the centre open to psychopaths, of his work with autistic patients and of his approach to families. However, the book as a whole revolves around the central question of psychoanalysis and psychiatry.

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