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Levin, K. (1994). Clinical Interaction and the Analysis of Meaning. A New Psychoanalytic Theory: By Theodore L. Dorpat and Michael L. Miller. Hillsdale, NJ/London: The Analytic Press, 1992. 282 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 63:373-377.

(1994). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 63:373-377

Clinical Interaction and the Analysis of Meaning. A New Psychoanalytic Theory: By Theodore L. Dorpat and Michael L. Miller. Hillsdale, NJ/London: The Analytic Press, 1992. 282 pp.

Review by:
Kenneth Levin

The authors argue that modern research has yielded an understanding of cognition and cognitive development that is inconsistent with major aspects of Freudian psychology and invalidates the theoretical underpinnings of traditional psychoanalytic practice. Exploring the implications for psychodynamic theory of new insights into cognition and learning is obviously a valuable exercise, and the present text makes some very useful contributions toward integrating modern learning theory into psychoanalytic psychology. But, as in many such efforts, the authors are working from a particular viewpoint regarding currently competing schools of psychoanalytic thought, and, in arguing that modern research on cognition and learning supports their viewpoint and disproves others, they overstate their case.

Dorpat, in his opening chapters, notes that according to the work of Piaget and others, cognition based on object representations and object memory develops rather late in early childhood and evolves out of a more primitive cognition involving sensorimotor action patterns. Dorpat argues that this newer understanding of cognitive development contradicts not only Freud's thesis of very early representational memory but also his concepts of primitive wishes and unconscious fantasies, which Freud saw as entailing pursuit of imagined variations on early-encountered and veridically and representationally remembered experiences of satisfaction.

Dorpat also argues that modern insights into cognition and learning contradict Freud's notion of primary process as mental activity that entails the primitive expression of early-engendered unconscious wishes and fantasies.

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