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Cohen, M.C. (2015). Conundrums: A Critique of Contemporary Psychoanalysis, by Jon Mills, Routledge, London, 2012, 242 pp.. Psychodyn. Psych., 43(1):149-156.

(2015). Psychodynamic Psychiatry, 43(1):149-156

Conundrums: A Critique of Contemporary Psychoanalysis, by Jon Mills, Routledge, London, 2012, 242 pp.

Review by:
Mariam C. Cohen, M.D., Psy.D, Ph.D.

Throughout the history of psychoanalysis a series of theoretical “schools,” new ways of understanding ourselves and our patients, have arisen. Drive psychology led to ego psychology, led to object relations, led to self psychology. As each new “psychoanalysis” has developed, its adherents have asserted the superiority of their new theories over the previous positions. At times these assertions have been contentious. I recall case presentations during my analytic training in which clinicians working from the then new self psychology proudly claimed that they had taken on patients who had unsuccessful treatments with object relations oriented therapists, had simply connected empathically with the patient, and had produced cures where the object relations theorists were unsuccessful.

Eventually, these various analytic theoretical approaches have come to a rapprochement. Fred Pine's Drive, Ego, Object, and Self, published in 1990, advocated what was at the time a radical notion that no one psychoanalytic theory was superior to any other but that each way of understanding the human mind, conscious and unconscious, could be seen as one perspective among others and that the best analysts could move flexibly from one perspective to another as each was most salient to what was going on in the analytic work. Reading Pine's work now, I am struck by his often defensive tone; he recognized that his perspectival approach would be attacked by advocates of each of the four “psychologies.

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