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Finlay, S. (2002). EDWARDS, JUDITH (ed.), Being Alive, Building on the Work of Anne Alvarez. London: Brunner-Routledge, 2001. Pp. xxix + 210. Hbk. £ 40. 00; Pbk. £ 16. 99.. J. Anal. Psychol., 47(4):650-651.

(2002). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 47(4):650-651

EDWARDS, JUDITH (ed.), Being Alive, Building on the Work of Anne Alvarez. London: Brunner-Routledge, 2001. Pp. xxix + 210. Hbk. £ 40. 00; Pbk. £ 16. 99.

Review by:
Shielagh Finlay

This is an engaging volume, a collection of five theoretical and nine clinical papers exploring and developing the innovative work of Anne Alvarez. Her skill is to bring the conflicting elements of classical Freudian and Kleinian theory into a living relationship in the work in the consulting room, forming a transcendent ‘live company’, the title of her seminal book, Live Company: Psychotherapy with Autistic, Borderline, Deprived and Abused Children, published by Routledge in 1998.

This international Festschrift of Alvarez's work of ‘reclaiming the “green-ness” in the “shrivelled hearts” of hopeless children’ is skilfully edited and introduced by Judith Edwards, consultant child and adolescent psychotherapist at the Tavistock Clinic, and former editor of the Journal of Child Psychotherapy. The book similarly ‘reclaims’ an aliveness in the familiar theoretical debates between disciplines, and invites the reader to participate in the exciting immediacy of clinical work in the journey of analysand and her co-traveller, analyst.

The theoretical papers enquire into and develop Alvarez's work. Neil Altman explores the bridge between the concept of self in Kernberg and Kohut, celebrating Alvarezas a ‘creative border-crosser’. He finds her work refreshing, with her avoidance of moralistic judgements. In her belief in the therapeutic aspects of excitation and idealism Altman sees a developmental value with the potential for hope and joy, that complements and counter-balances the Kleinian aim towards attaining the depressive position.

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