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Ruddick, B. (1959). Thrills and Regressions: By Michael Balint, M.D. New York: International Universities Press, Inc., 1959. 148 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 28:401-402.

(1959). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 28:401-402

Thrills and Regressions: By Michael Balint, M.D. New York: International Universities Press, Inc., 1959. 148 pp.

Review by:
Bruce Ruddick

This book is based on two of Balint's earlier papers, one of which described 'primary love' ('a relationship in which only one partner may have demands and claims'); the second, which attempted to describe two character traits by coining the terms 'philobat' ('one who enjoys thrills away from the safe earth in a world consisting of friendly expanses dotted more or less densely with dangerous and unpredictable objects … carefully avoiding hazardous contacts'), and 'ocnophil' ('one who clings to objects … and whose world consists of objects, separated by horrid empty spaces … cutting his sojourns in the empty spaces as short as possible').

Setting up these character types, the author proceeds to link their attitudes to conflicts in very early childhood relationships, following Ferenczi's suggestion that 'the relation to concrete particular objects is secondary to an overriding, more primitive relationship to the undifferentiated friendly expanses'.

Balint proposes that 'the friendly expanses', rather than 'the breast,' is the basis for the dream screen, terms which Lewin states with humor are synonyms.

The author believes that certain individuals develop an unrealistic negative attitude, or a similarly unrealistic positive attitude to 'the friendly expanses'. He records his indebtedness to Ferenczi, who opened for him 'the great possibilities of bio-analysis' and, although frequently using such terms as 'predepressive' and 'postdepressive' phases, he does not credit Melanie Klein, and also avoids any recognition of the quite considerable literature on ego psychology. Five pages from the end of the book, he first mentions the similarity of these types to Freud's anaclitic and narcissistic types, Fenichel's phobic and counterphobic types, or the anal-retentive and phallic-exhibitionistic types, which he dismisses as follows.

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