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Zinkin, L. (1978). FRASER, MORRIS. The death of Narcissus. London, Martin Secker & Warburg 1976. Pp. xi + 244. £4.90.. J. Anal. Psychol., 23(1):95-96.

(1978). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 23(1):95-96

FRASER, MORRIS. The death of Narcissus. London, Martin Secker & Warburg 1976. Pp. xi + 244. £4.90.

Review by:
Louis Zinkin

Edited by:
Kenneth Lambert

This is a book on paedophilia. Though the author is a practising psychiatrist who has treated paedophilic patients, his approach in this book is through fiction and he has chosen a number of writers where paedophilic phantasies can be discerned in an attempt to throw light on the nature of the condition and its origins. This method has a number of well-known hazards, of which the author is well aware. If the literary work in question is not explicitly about paedophilia as a sexual perversion, is one justified in drawing conclusions from it and applying these to paedophilic patients? Certainly, drawing conclusions about the psychopathology of a dead artist from his works is notoriously unreliable—(Freud's speculations about Leonardo da Vinci do not carry the conviction of his clinical case-histories) and, while Morris Fraser does exercise some caution, he tends to use biographical and autobiographical material of the authors in support of a theory of the developmental origins of paedophilia. I think this is legitimate if it can be shown that both the developmental histories and the phantasies of overt paedophilia have common features and Morris Fraser suggests this but does not really demonstrate it. There is a notable absence of detailed case-studies, perhaps due to understandable problems of confidentiality.

On the other hand, the main body of the book, in which he traces recurrent themes or motifs in each of his chosen authors, is most stimulating. The writers that he concentrates on are James Barrie, Henry James, Lewis Carroll, Forrest Reid, George MacDonald, Charles Kingsley, F.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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