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Hoffer, A. (1984). A Clinician's Guide to Reading Freud: By Peter L. Giovacchini, M.D. New York/London: Jason Aronson, 1982. 251 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 53:109-113.

(1984). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 53:109-113

A Clinician's Guide to Reading Freud: By Peter L. Giovacchini, M.D. New York/London: Jason Aronson, 1982. 251 pp.

Review by:
Axel Hoffer

This concise guide to Freud's basic writings is derived from a seminar devoted to the understanding and integration of Freud's contributions. After a brief historical overview of Freud's place in the history of psychiatry, the author takes the reader on a guided tour of the origins and evolution of basic psychoanalytic theory and technique. The ways in which Freud grappled with questions of theory and the influence of theory and technique upon one another are vividly illustrated.

The book begins appropriately with Freud's 1915 paper, "The Unconscious," and the justifications for that fundamental concept. It then proceeds chronologically, beginning with the Studies on Hysteria, through the early psychodynamic formulations of conflict and defense and the first anxiety theory. Within the topographical theory, the theories of instincts, from libido theory through "On Narcissism" (1914) to "Beyond the Pleasure Principle" (1920), are elucidated. The final chapter is devoted to "The Ego and the Id" (1923) in which Freud addressed unresolved clinical and theoretical issues, particularly the problems of unconscious guilt and anxiety. The way in which the structural hypothesis and the second anxiety theory were constructed to try to resolve these questions is very clearly presented. The author's special interest in a psychoanalytic approach to patients with character problems and psychotic decompensations is manifest in his consistent attention in Freud's writing to the implications for technique with patients with character pathology.

The format of the book follows the outline of the seminar, as summarized above.

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