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Levin, C.D. (2001). Surviving Literary Suicide: Jeffrey Berman Amherst, MA: Univ. of Massachusetts Press, 1999. 290 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 70(4):907-918.

(2001). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 70(4):907-918

Surviving Literary Suicide: Jeffrey Berman Amherst, MA: Univ. of Massachusetts Press, 1999. 290 pp.

Review by:
Charles D. Levin

This unusual book by Jeffrey Berman, professor of English at State University of New York, Albany, will stimulate and reward any psychoanalyst or literary scholar who is curious about the relationships of these two disciplines to each other and to broader issues of public health and education. Berman edited the series Literature and Psychoanalysis and has authored many psychoanalytically inspired literary studies. But the chief appeal of Surviving Literary Suicide lies less in his approach to literature per se than in his great passion for teaching and for adapting clinical theory to the aims of the classroom. For Berman, psychoanalysis is not about lofty schemes of symbolic interpretation or the metaphysics of the human condition; it is about mental health and human relationships. As in a previous study, Diaries to an English Professor: Pain and Growth in the Classroom, Berman is remarkably attentive to the emotional lives of his students. Surviving Literary Suicide also has an important personal significance for Berman; while he was away at university during the late 1960s, his best friend telephoned him during a suicide attempt, which eventually succeeded.

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