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Gilman, S.L. (2010). Psychoanalysis at the Margins by Paul Stepansky (New York, NY: The Other Press, 2009; 357 pp; $39.00); reviewed by Sander Gilman. Psychoanal. Hist., 12(2):279-280.

(2010). Psychoanalysis and History, 12(2):279-280

Psychoanalysis at the Margins by Paul Stepansky (New York, NY: The Other Press, 2009; 357 pp; $39.00); reviewed by Sander Gilman

Review by:
Sander L. Gilman

Paul Stepansky has been one of the leading figures in the public presentation of psychoanalysis over the past decades. As the editor of the Analytic Press from 1984 to 2006 and as a wide-ranging commentator on the history and culture of psychoanalysis, his presence has been widely felt in American psychoanalytic circles. This present volume collects a series of essays that document various aspects of psychoanalytic publishing history and reaches beyond them. Stepansky, trained as an intellectual historian, is both an informed and knowledgeable commentator on this question and an involved participant in its history as the editor of works by Heinz Kohut and Margaret Mahler, among others. Publishing history is always a history of individuals and their interaction within institutions. Here Stepansky does not disappoint. We have the most detailed account to date of the history of psychoanalytic publishing, its major players and its changing ideology. Yet Stepansky's use of the ‘crisis’ model for psychoanalysis as his central explanatory model is in no way new. The sense that psychoanalysis seems to be a ‘failing project’ haunts much of the historical work over the past decade. And Stepansky, with his dismissal of the turn to pluralism, sees that attempt at a set of compromises as a failure too.

Yet the tone of Stepansky's volume seems rather more elegiac than mournful. What he bemoans is the collapse of older structures and institutions, many of which had their roots at the very ‘origins’ of psychoanalysis, with Freud and the Wednesday Night Circle.

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