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Fordham, M. (1989). Meltzer, D. and Williams, M. H. The Apprehension of Beauty. Clunie Press, 1988. Pp. xvi 240.. J. Anal. Psychol., 34(3):299-301.

(1989). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 34(3):299-301

Meltzer, D. and Williams, M. H. The Apprehension of Beauty. Clunie Press, 1988. Pp. xvi 240.

Review by:
Michael Fordham, M.D., Hon F.B.Ps.S.

Edited by:
Barbara Wharton

After seven years' analysis in which the patient divested herself of much of her falsity and perversion, she developed multiple sclerosis, still in its early stages. Of her state Meltzer writes:

‘… the theory of a punitive super-ego merely gives voice to the patient's own religious and moralistic phantasy and expectation, even in a sense her wish to be punished with death, rather than to have to experience the powerful emotions of fear and love, hate and dependence, ignorance and the yearning to understand, life at the passionate level of aesthetic conflict, clinging to the rock, ravished by the beauty of the sea, terrified of being swept away. Swept away by what? The material says it clearly: swept away by the preference for mindlessness, cocooned in quiet submission to the demands of the culture of the family, seasoned by secret perversity.’ (p. 177)

This evocative passage illustrates Meltzer's style. That is relevant to consider because of the aesthetic colouring to this book. His writing, though sometimes difficult to follow, especially when he interprets dreams (though his skill and virtuosity in that direction is remarkable) is well adapted to his subject matter. This is an original and creative volume illustrating what a long way psychoanalysts have come since Freud's early drive theories, through object relations and Klein, to Bion and now Meltzer, who has digested his psychoanalytic gods in earlier volumes: The Kleinian Development and Extended Metapsychology.

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