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Tip: To see Abram’s analysis of Winnicott’s theories…

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In-depth analysis of Winnicott’s psychoanalytic theorization was conducted by Jan Abrams in her work The Language of Winnicott. You can access it directly by clicking here.

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Tabin, J.K. (1995). Affect in Psychoanalysis: A Clinical Synthesis: Charles Spezzano, Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press, 1993, 250 pp., $36.. Psychoanal. Psychol., 12(3):451-456.

(1995). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 12(3):451-456

Affect in Psychoanalysis: A Clinical Synthesis: Charles Spezzano, Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press, 1993, 250 pp., $36.

Review by:
Johanna Krout Tabin, Ph.D.

Charles Spezzano's Affect in Psychoanalysis: A Clinical Synthesis is difficult to treat adequately in a short review. It's not that the book's main themes cannot be stated: Affects are at the heart of the human experience, reflecting the information that basically motivates us. Language affords us ways of approximating truth, but the closest we come to truth is through communication of affects. Freud's functional theory of affects is central to the practice of psychoanalysis even today. Interest excitement (as Spezzano calls it) is the organizing affect that underlies behavior.

It is also easy to state Spezzano's theory of affects. In his preface, he tells the reader to anticipate experiencing “a disturbing collapse of crucial concepts—such as drive, object and self—into the vortex of feeling” (p. xiii). His goal is to offer a new theory more in keeping with clinical experience and enabling analysts to be more effective with patients. Although he spends the first half of the book essentially debating with other theorists about the way to think about affects, his message is unmistakable throughout. Psychoanalysis is about feelings, and this is the work and the meaning of what we do. Patients learn through all of our interactions with them that they can regulate their affects of all kinds. Affects are not only infantile. They can exist in an adult mode. Spezzano would agree with Brierley (1937) that

the dynamics of the psyche are the dynamics of affect…. We must have a logical theory, but we do not work with theory, we work with living feeling. We should do well to check our theory by constant reference to our working knowledge of affects. (pp.

[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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