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Orange, D.M. (2012). Toward Mutual Recognition: Relational Psychoanalysis and the Christian Narrative, by Marie T. Hoffman (Relational Perspectives Book Series, Vol. 48), New York, NY: Routledge, 2011, 256 pp., $35.95.. Psychoanal. Psychol., 29(1):112-118.
(2012). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 29(1):112-118
Toward Mutual Recognition: Relational Psychoanalysis and the Christian Narrative, by Marie T. Hoffman (Relational Perspectives Book Series, Vol. 48), New York, NY: Routledge, 2011, 256 pp., $35.95.
Review by: Donna M. Orange, Ph.D., PsyD
Marie Hoffman has attempted a scholarly, important, and elegantly designed interdisciplinary study. This book wants to shake up our thinking about the origins of relational psychoanalysis. Its author, steeped in conservative and evangelical, though not fundamentalist, Christian theology, recasts the usual secular histories of contemporary psychoanalysis. These accounts tell the story of Freud's wholesale rejection of religion as illusion, and seriously neglect, in Hoffman's view, religious influences that have impelled contemporary psychoanalysis toward relationality. Her massive use of sources—in psychoanalysis, theology, philosophy, and intellectual history generally—testifies to her serious and impressive reading as well as to her integrative capacities.
Even more, this project's elegance comes from her mapping of the three kairotic (existential, not chronological time) moments of incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection onto Jessica Benjamin's (Benjamin, 1990) theory of mutual recognition, centrally located within contemporary relational psychoanalysis. Indeed, she takes her three moments from Hegel's own dialectical formulation in his Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion(Hegel & Hodgson, 2006). The whole book, interspersed with a gripping and germane clinical story, receives its structure from this graceful schematic. Hoffman believes that trinitarian theology, as developed by Hegel and theologians influenced by him, exactly replicates the central tenets of relational psychoanalysis as propounded by Benjamin and Lewis Aron—both of whom, by the way, she acknowledges for supporting the development
1 I am following the convention of using lowercase relational psychoanalysis to refer to an inclusive sense of this term, including self-psychology, intersubjective systems theorists, and anyone who wants to be included.
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