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Flower, S. (2008). Dougherty, Nancy J. & West, Jacqueline J. The Matrix and Meaning of Character: An Archetypal and Developmental Approach. Searching for the Wellsprings of Spirit. Hove & New York: Routledge, 2007. Pp. 298. Pbk. £19.99/$30.00.. J. Anal. Psychol., 53(2):285-286.

(2008). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 53(2):285-286

Dougherty, Nancy J. & West, Jacqueline J. The Matrix and Meaning of Character: An Archetypal and Developmental Approach. Searching for the Wellsprings of Spirit. Hove & New York: Routledge, 2007. Pp. 298. Pbk. £19.99/$30.00.

Review by:
Steven Flower

Edited by:
Linda Carter and Marcus West

This was a fascinating book to read and a slightly difficult one to review. The authors set out, with considerable ambition, to outline ‘a model of pre-Oedipal character structures’ which ‘integrates contemporary psychoanalytic thinking about character with Jungian concepts about the nature and dynamics of the psyche’ (p. 4). They are attempting what many of us might hope to do clinically, a bringing together of different analytic traditions. Mainstream psychoanalytic thinking about psychopathology and its treatment sits alongside fairy tales and mythology. Different languages are drawn together to depict a matrix of character structures-‘not a typological system; they are diagnostic and archetypal images synthesized into a mythopoetic model’ (p. 4).

Following the development of the ego, the authors highlight three phases of pre-Oedipal development: the primal phase, the narcissistic phase and the neurotic phase. These overlap with three relational patterns: withdrawing, seeking and antagonistic. Each of these relational patterns ‘manifests itself uniquely in each developmental phase’ (p. 13). This gives a matrix of nine possible character structures. The book is divided into three sections, one for each relational pattern and within each of these are three chapters giving accounts of the key character structures. These accounts may begin with a fairy tale or mythological depiction before moving into a theoretical review, clinical examples and often a return, at the end of the chapter, to the earlier mythology.

[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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