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Shulman, G. (2001). The Bi-Personal Field: Experiences in Child Analysis Antonino Ferro Routledge, London and New York, 1999 210 pp., £17.99. J. Child Psychother., 27(3):343-345.

(2001). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 27(3):343-345

The Bi-Personal Field: Experiences in Child Analysis Antonino Ferro Routledge, London and New York, 1999 210 pp., £17.99

Review by:
Graham Shulman

This book is one the New Library of Psychoanalysis series published in association with the Institute of Psycho-Analysis, London. It is an English, revised version of a book originally published in Italy in 1992 under a different title. There is a useful introduction by Elizabeth Bott Spillius, current general editor of the series and editor of the two volumes of Melanie Klein Today. Spillius helpfully sets Ferro's ideas in context for readers who may be unfamiliar with either Ferro's writings or the theoretical concepts he frequently refers to and draws upon. Spillius also comments on a number of themes connected with Ferro's ideas, and discusses some areas of controversy.

Ferro's book as a whole is concerned with the issue of how the analytic encounter between analyst and patient is conceived of and formulated, how the analyst stays open to emotional contact and meaning, the question of ‘hierarchy in [interpretative] codes and [theoretical] models’, and the related theme of how these determine the activity of interpretation. A central metaphor for Ferro is that of analyst and patient as a ‘group of two’, the point being that, as in any group, it is not always immediately clear what projective identifications belong to whom.

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