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Porder, M.S. (1987). Pathological Play in Borderline and Narcissistic Personalities. Patterns of Real and Not-Real Meaning in Splitting and Denial; Love, Hate, and Ambivalence; And Social Ideology: By Irving Steingart, Ph.D. New York: SP Medical & Scientific Books, 1983. 139 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 56:558-564.

(1987). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 56:558-564

Pathological Play in Borderline and Narcissistic Personalities. Patterns of Real and Not-Real Meaning in Splitting and Denial; Love, Hate, and Ambivalence; And Social Ideology: By Irving Steingart, Ph.D. New York: SP Medical & Scientific Books, 1983. 139 pp.

Review by:
Michael S. Porder

The title of this book is only a partial statement of what the book contains. Even the addition of the subtitle does not yield a sufficient description. The book is a comprehensive overview of Steingart's own theory of psychoanalytic developmental psychology and psychopathology. It includes a carefully reasoned presentation of Piaget's work and brings it into the general framework of classical psychoanalytic theory. Along the way, Steingart considers ideas of Freud, Hartmann, A. Freud, Jacobson, Kohut, Kernberg, Loewald, and Winnicott, among others, to see where their theoretical positions agree or disagree with his own. Venturing beyond developmental and clinical theory, he extrapolates into the area of social values, ethics, and philosophy. Finally, almost as an after-thought, he offers some brief suggestions about how his ideas can be applied to clinical practice.

This is a difficult book. The ideas are stimulating, but one has to wade through a great deal of densely written, highly reasoned, theoretical material to follow them. There is essentially no clinical material to provide guideposts along the way. As a result, the book requires study rather than a mere reading.

Steingart introduces his thesis by examining Kernberg's postulate of "borderline personality organization" as a specific, discrete psychopathological entity. Steingart agrees with those critics of Kernberg who view his statements about "splitting" and "reality testing" as inconsistent and insufficiently reasoned.

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