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Kilborne, B. (2005). SHAME AND JEALOUSY: THE HIDDEN TURMOILS. By Phil Mollon. London: Karnac, 2002. 162 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 74(4):1208-1210.

(2005). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 74(4):1208-1210

SHAME AND JEALOUSY: THE HIDDEN TURMOILS. By Phil Mollon. London: Karnac, 2002. 162 pp.

Review by:
Benjamin Kilborne

Phil Mollon's book on shame and jealousy represents one of the very first written on this topic in the British tradition. Mollon has made a valiant effort to bring the work of Melanie Klein and Heinz Kohut together around the notion of shame. Klein is there behind the concept of jealousy, akin to envy, and Kohut is there behind the concept of shame in Mollon's emphasis on empathy.

When Mollon writes that “shame is where we fail” (p. xi), the book begins on sound footing, since, as many have noted (Wurmser, Lansky, Kilborne, Morrison), shame experiences are by definition anxiety-filled fears of being ashamed, and being ashamed is the very mark of failure. Mollon makes a number of valid observations, and links feelings of failure and shame with difficulties in establishing viable object relations. However, by limiting his case material to so-called illustrations devoid of therapist–patient interactions, Mollon deprives the reader of that fabric of psychoanalytic work so valuable in connecting theory and clinical work.

Consider one of his first case illustrations: that of Pedro and Natalie, with whom Mollon worked as a couple. Whereas Freud emphasized how important it is for psychoanalysts to understand the specificity of knowledge gained through the use of the psychoanalytic method, Mollon appears to assume that what he does as psychoanalyst, psychotherapist, or couples therapist is all the same. In commenting on the compulsive promiscuity of Natalie, Mollon observes that she “felt shame and guilt about this, but was convinced that her sexual adventures were necessary for her psychic survival—representing for her an affirmation of her autonomy and sense of agency and efficacy” (p. 4). He then explains: “Natalie's experience of feeling her inner privacy to be agonizingly violated by Pedro's wishes to know of both her desires and her behavior in relation to other men” (p. 4). This reader would have wished for an account of Natalie's relationship to and fantasies about her therapist.

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