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Pugh, K. (2017). Minding the Body: The Body in Psychoanalysis and Beyond by Alessandra Lemma Routledge, London, 2014; 210 pp. £30.99. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 98(2):571-573.

(2017). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 98(2):571-573

Minding the Body: The Body in Psychoanalysis and Beyond by Alessandra Lemma Routledge, London, 2014; 210 pp. £30.99

Review by:
Kate Pugh

I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in my life. And I am horribly limited.

(Plath, 2000, p. 43)

Perhaps when we find ourselves wanting everything, it is because we are dangerously close to wanting nothing.

(Plath, 2000, p. 43)

In Minding the body, Alessandra Lemma takes us into the psychotic world of wanting it all and using the body to get it. This is a world that we are all invited to buy into where we are to believe that “feelings of sadness or depression or even injustice can be overcome - indeed can be eliminated - through manipulation of the body's surface”. The savage mocking super-ego of the make-over show, an area in which the author has some clinical experience, is laid bare with chilling authenticity, while the individual stories of patients in psychoanalysis, bring to life the unconscious insistence on being “all the people I want” (Plath, 2000), the ideal, through altering the body with surgery. There is particular emphasis, naturally, on the body of origin that is the maternal body that gave birth to and suckled and nurtured the infant and the sexual mother's body that created the baby through intercourse with the father. These facts of life (Money Kyrle, 1968) are to be obliterated with the surgical cut of self-creation.

Alessandra Lemma is generous in her sharing of detailed and moving clinical material in which she illustrates her sensitive use of her understanding of the transference in particular her own bodily responses to her patients alongside their unconscious communications, showing a complex and hidden relationship to an internal object through their bodily actions.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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