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Larsson, B. (1986). Self Inquiry: M. Robert Gardner. Boston and Toronto: Little, Brown, 1983, vi + 121 pp., $12.95. Psychoanal. Psychol., 3(3):277-280.

(1986). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 3(3):277-280

Self Inquiry: M. Robert Gardner. Boston and Toronto: Little, Brown, 1983, vi + 121 pp., $12.95

Review by:
Bo Larsson, M.D.

To quote the back flap of this poetic, intriguingly simple, and nontheoretical little book, “M. Robert Gardner lives in Boston. He is a psychoanalyst, a teacher, a founder of the Psychoanalytic Institute of New England, a Sunday painter, and a summer naturalist.” In order to gauge the wisdom of this characterization one has to take an evening off to read the book. Self Inquiry turns out to be written by a psychoanalyst of the purest water, in spite of the author's unconventional way of reasoning.

Gardner strikes a provocative note from the beginning:

Psychoanalysts fritter away large chances in half-truths. Psychoanalysts ape the forms and foul the spirit of yesterday's classics and of today's revolutions. Psychoanalysts are beset by orthodoxies of the right, orthodoxies of the left, and orthodoxies of the middle of the road. (p. 3).

He finds “psychoanalysts trying mechanically not to be mechanical” (p. 4). “We want to be one way, and we find we are, over and over, despite our best efforts, exactly the opposite” (p. 6).

I think that most experienced analysts will find such paradoxical formulations provocative but, above all, profoundly true. Most of us have stumbled upon them ourselves, although we never wrote them down, talked about them, or perhaps even formulated them distinctly to ourselves.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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