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Bauer, S.F. (1997). Psychic Retreats: Pathological Organizations in Psychotic, Neurotic and Borderline Patients by John Steiner London/New York: Routledge, 1993, xiii + 162 pp., £35.00; £12,99 paper. Psa. Books, 8(2):198-204.

(1997). Psychoanalytic Books, 8(2):198-204

Psychic Retreats: Pathological Organizations in Psychotic, Neurotic and Borderline Patients by John Steiner London/New York: Routledge, 1993, xiii + 162 pp., £35.00; £12,99 paper

Review by:
Stephen F. Bauer, M.D.

Introducing this absorbing and valuable book, Steiner states that theories should be both interesting and clinically useful. He tells us that because psychoanalysts always have theories, whether overtly stated or not, “it is better to have a conscious theory than an unconscious prejudice” (p. xii). A superb point.

There has been justifiable emphasis recently in the “common ground” (Wallerstein, 1990) of psychoanalysis, that is, oneness in psychoanalytic theory and practice. But common ground does carry risk. An excessive zeal for agreement may stultify and limit new observations. Also, commonality may sometimes deceive us. It may be more apparent than real. For example, we think of a tomato as a vegetable although it is, in fact, a fruit. This misidentification causes little trouble when we go shopping.

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