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Lawrence, M. (2016). Minding the body: the body in psychoanalysis and beyond. J. Child Psychother., 42(3):363-365.

(2016). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 42(3):363-365

Minding the body: the body in psychoanalysis and beyond

Marilyn Lawrence

As Alessandra Lemma says in her foreword, the majority of the chapters in this book are previously published in professional journals. However, they are not all in the journals that many of us are likely to read regularly, and so I am sure that many readers will find papers previously unknown to them, as I did.

The books begins with a scholarly introduction – ‘When the body speaks’. This is structured around what Lemma describes as her four assumptions about embodiment. The first assumption is that embodiment shapes the mind. The second concerns the clinical implication of Freud’s theoretical insights into the importance of the body ego. The third assumption is that seeing and being seen are central dynamics in early life that shape the development of the self and the fourth is that in order to understand the patient’s experience of the body-self, we need to understand the primordial relationship we all have with the mother’s body. The introduction presents a thoughtful account of what constitutes psychoanalytic work and a fruitful discussion about the use of the couch. It is by no means a gentle welcome to the rest of the book, as some introductions tend to be. It is in places densely theoretical and quite a demanding read. In the event, I returned to re-read this introduction after I had read the following chapters and was well rewarded for doing so.

Lemma, in my view, is at her very best when writing about her clinical work. This includes not just her private psychoanalytic work, but also work with adolescents and forensic patients in public settings.

[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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