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Hatch, L. (2010). A Woman's Unconscious Use of Her Body: A Psychoanalytical Perspective. Dinora Pines. United Kingdom: Virago Press, 1993. Reprint. East Sussex, UK: Routledge, 2010. 206 pp.. Mod. Psychoanal., 35(1):131-135.

(2010). Modern Psychoanalysis, 35(1):131-135

A Woman's Unconscious Use of Her Body: A Psychoanalytical Perspective. Dinora Pines. United Kingdom: Virago Press, 1993. Reprint. East Sussex, UK: Routledge, 2010. 206 pp.

Review by:
Loryn Hatch

In 1993, the British psychoanalyst Dinora Pines published A Woman's Unconscious Use of Her Body, a collection of papers about her ongoing clinical work with women that earned international recognition. Seventeen years later, the book has been republished with a short and compelling introduction by Susie Orbach, its pages otherwise unaltered since Pines's death in 2002. Replete with vivid case histories that reflect the cultural developments, psychical conflicts, and profound traumas of the twentieth century (Pines is famous for her work with Holocaust survivors), the collection transcends any one epoch or psychoanalytic school of thought with its timeless clinical insight into the developmental stages in a woman's life from infancy to old age. Her poignant narration of her patients’ lives resonates with empathy, intuition, and revelatory self-examination, exemplifying a practical, humane, and grounded approach to working with the complexities of the female psyche.

Born in Eastern Europe in 1918, Pines came from a family of Jewish physicians that immigrated to London when she was a child. She spent her early academic years studying languages, culture, and literature. Like many of her European contemporaries, however, the horrors of World War II reconfigured her external and internal life, pressing her to abandon her liberal studies for medicine, a decision she believes was “perhaps unconsciously striving to find a way of repairing, rescuing and healing human beings who were being so horribly destroyed in the outside world” (p. 1). Nevertheless, in her practice as a dermatologist, Pines found that her study of language and literature aided her work as she discovered her willingness to listen, a powerful remedy in her treatment of skin disorders.

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