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Stebbins, M. (2005). Symington, Neville. The Blind Man Sees. Freud's Awakening and Other Essays. London: Karnac Books, 2004. Pp. Pbk. £19.99.. J. Anal. Psychol., 50(1):112-113.

(2005). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 50(1):112-113

Symington, Neville. The Blind Man Sees. Freud's Awakening and Other Essays. London: Karnac Books, 2004. Pp. Pbk. £19.99.

Review by:
Morgan Stebbins

In this volume Mr. Symington has gathered eighteen disparate essays and attempted to bind them together with a title and an additional introduction. In themselves the essays are of varying quality and clarity and they range widely across the landscape of the author's interests. Topics run from the clear and original work on Freud and Brentano, to the highly conjectural and we can only hope, satirically titled ‘The True God and the False God’. In fact Mr. Symington appears to be fascinated by the religious and mythological. One wonders if the vocabulary of analytical psychology would not be more expressive. However, as a Freudian, this language is not available. Before we get to some examples from these and the other essays, let us examine the introduction which serves to present the work as a whole.

Because the introduction is representative of all the essays which deal with religion we must look at it carefully. Mr. Symington begins his introduction with the heading, Psychoanalysis: a scientific religion. Given the title of the book, this comes like a bolt from the blue. Here is an example of the recent groundswell of attempts to bridge science and religion using some psychological language. As is usually the case in these attempts it is not seen as any shortcoming that the author is neither a practising scientist nor a theologian.

If we can assume a general interest in bridging the two assumedly foreign lands of science and religion, a fruitful study might be an extended questioning of the archetypal combat between these two eternal enemies. Some questions come to mind. What is it in our language or assumptions that pit these two against one another? What does each represent in the personal and collective psyche? At what point in history did our consciousness of the world begin to see each of these realms as separate, and more so, incompatible? And finally, what does it mean that, regardless of the expertise of the author, great energy is spent in their reconciliation? However, Mr. Symington cuts to the chase by defining both religion and science in the next few lines.

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