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Ramsden, S. (1995). Rita V. Frankiel (ed.) Essential Papers on Object Loss, New York & London: New York University Press, 1994 547 pp. £20.. J. Child Psychother., 21(2):285-289.

(1995). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 21(2):285-289

Rita V. Frankiel (ed.) Essential Papers on Object Loss, New York & London: New York University Press, 1994 547 pp. £20.

Review by:
Sandra Ramsden

‘Why is death longer than life?’ a 5-year-old boy, developing normally, asked his mother in the course of discussion about the circumstances of his grandfather's death before his birth. A question so simple and profound, related by the mother to this reviewer, touching the essentials of the human condition, encapsulates the topic of this collection of psychoanalytic papers, a topic at the heart of psychoanalytic theory and practice.

This is an ambitious volume, a collection whose declared aim is to bring together ‘the most significant contributions to psychoanalytic and psychological understanding of the effect of object loss on adults and children’. It aspires to lead to more focused attention in clinical work and teaching through this exploration of psychoanalytic works spanning eighty years (the earliest paper included is by Karl Abraham, 1911), a collection which examines not only fundamental distinctions between mourning and depression but the traumas occasioned by object loss, its nature, its characteristics and the obstacles to attachment that may be sequelae. Twenty-seven papers are grouped here in seven sections. Introductory notes by the editor, Rita V. Frankiel, are included and appear as introductions to individual papers, to groups of papers or to the separate sections.

This is a well-produced book and each individual paper has a full and accurate bibliography or a set of references (some of which are numbered, some not). In addition, at the end of the volume there appears a set of editor's references, and, also grouped in relation to the sections of the book, a set of highly recommended readings.

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