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Gediman, H.K. (1999). The Inner World in the Outer World. Psychoanalytic Perspectives: Edward R. Shapiro. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press. 1997. Pp. 187. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 80(2):402-406.

(1999). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 80(2):402-406

The Inner World in the Outer World. Psychoanalytic Perspectives: Edward R. Shapiro. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press. 1997. Pp. 187

Review by:
Helen K. Gediman

In ‘Thoughts for the times on war and death’ (1915; S.E. 14), Freud established a tradition that was to acknowledge the reciprocal influences of inner and outer worlds. The outer world, seen at that time primarily through the lens of the atrocities of the First World War, was viewed as mainly evil. Its influences on the inner workings of the mind were limited, by and large, to the commonly held instinctual impulses, neither good nor bad, of all mankind. The inner world accommodated to outer civilisation mainly by instinctual renunciation and transformations. Freud's paradigm is revisited and expanded, implicitly, in this current volume, which emerged from an international conference held at the Austen Riggs Center in celebration of its seventy-fifth anniversary.

Its editor, Edward R. Shapiro, urges nine contributors, all distinguished and eminent psychoanalysts who are known for their work in selected areas of the field, to explore the boundary of experience where inner and outer worlds converge. He suggests as an integrating schema for the contributions to this book that the limited focus by psychoanalysts and all dynamic therapists on the internal world alone may have contributed to the field's inability to stay in touch with the effects of massive social change on the treatment setting. Each of the contributors to this volume is guided by his or her own special interests. Therefore, the variety of perspectives on the shifting boundaries of inner and outer vary considerably in the ways that they respond to Shapiro's suggested integrating schema. Had the authors complied with the letter, the outcome could have been a procrustean and limited discourse. Had all the contributors literally stayed close to their charge, the compendium might not have had the implicit tensions between authors that lends it the excitement it conveys. Fortunately, as individual psychoanalytic thinkers each taking up the particular banner of their choice, they ventured to one degree or another outside the boundary of the suggested task, expressing their inner takes on the topic. The result at worst could have been a melange of individualistic self-expressions conforming more or less to the general topic each was invited to discuss. As it turns out, however, we are treated to a most interesting and multi-perspectival work that consists of highly individualised variations on a unifying theme.

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