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Z., G. (1950). The Psychoanalysis of Elation: By Bertram D. Lewin. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., Inc., 1950. 200 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 19:414-419.
(1950). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 19:414-419
The Psychoanalysis of Elation: By Bertram D. Lewin. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., Inc., 1950. 200 pp.
Review by: G. Z.
This book cannot be reviewed in the ordinary manner in which reviews are written. A review must by tradition or necessity contain a summary of the contents of the book. Lewin's book is so compact, so condensed, so tersely expounded with such economy of words, that it defies summarizing. One must read it and put it aside for further (and frequent) reference; for the one hundred eighty-two pages of text will have to be read and reread until they become part and parcel of one's psychoanalytic armamentarium. There is a bibliography of about fifteen pages, which means that a rough seven percent of the pages, not counting the index, represent bibliography. The titles in this vast bibliography are not there to garnish the scarce dish of the text, as is the case with so many books. The books and articles listed by Lewin are either actually and pertinently referred to, or quoted from, in the text. In other words, we have here a product of many years of study, of quiet gathering of one's thoughts, and of contemplating the thoughts of others.
We have, especially of late, a great many new books on psychoanalysis. A number of them are more or less skilful but not always original, or they are repetitions of old things we all know or ought to know. Lewin's book is speculative without being recondite, and it reiterates old and established psychoanalytic truths without being trite, and without that verbal juggling and intellectual journalism which many opponents and 'reformers' of psychoanalysis prefer to associate with psychoanalytic orthodoxy.
Lewin's thesis is that elation—so familiar in all varieties of psychopathological reactions—is a special form of defense reaction which heretofore has been rather poorly understood, and that that defense reaction is intimately related to sleep, or rather to the reactions which produce or induce and preserve sleep. the wish to sleep, to eat, and to be eaten are here psychologically reconstructed and resynthesized in their intimate interrelationships, and Lewin uses rather happily the term 'the oral triad' to describe the particular constellation of the oral libidinal elements which play the determining role in elation.
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