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Rhode, M. (1989). Donald Meltzer and Meg Harris Williams: The Apprehension of Beauty: The Role of Aesthetic Conflict in Development, Art, and Violence. 240 pp., Perthshire. Clunie Press, 1988, £15.00.. J. Child Psychother., 15(2):115-118.

(1989). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 15(2):115-118

Reviews

Donald Meltzer and Meg Harris Williams: The Apprehension of Beauty: The Role of Aesthetic Conflict in Development, Art, and Violence. 240 pp., Perthshire. Clunie Press, 1988, £15.00.

Review by:
Maria Rhode

“The absence of the vocabulary of aesthetics in the literature of psychoanalysis, at least in its theoretical vocabulary, is nowhere more stunningly illustrated than in Melanie Klein's Narrative of a Child Analysis. The terse and even harsh language of her theories, and their preponderant concern with the phenomenology of the paranoid-schizoid position, stands in astonishing contrast to the emotional, and certainly at times passionate, climate of her relationship to Richard and of his overwhelming preoccupation with the vulnerability of the beauty of the world to Hitler's destructiveness and his own.” (p. 25)

Readers of this Journal will find no difficulty in recognising the area of experience alluded to in this quotation from The Apprehension of Beauty by Donald Meltzer and Meg Harris Williams. Theoretical formulations can often seem to fall painfully short of encompassing the reality of analytic experience, however useful, productive or indeed beautiful the theory in itself may be. This is not in any way to diminish the importance of theory. As the authors point out elsewhere in this book, within the psychoanalytic method dwells the theory by which it is practised, much as the inner world of the mother is felt to be located behind the surface she presents to view: and they suggest that much of the mistrust evoked by theory may indeed be of a similar nature to that evoked by the mother's hidden aspects, and which is a main strand of what they term “Aesthetic Conflict”.

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