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Whyte, R. (1994). A Psychoanalytic Theory of Infantile Experience. Conceptual and Clinical Reflections. By Eugenio Gaddini. Edited by Adam Limentani. No. 16 in The New Library of Psychoanalysis edited by Elizabeth Bott Spillius. London: Routledge. £14.99. Pp. 220.. Psychoanal. Psychother., 8(1):87-87.

(1994). Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 8(1):87-87

Book Reviews

A Psychoanalytic Theory of Infantile Experience. Conceptual and Clinical Reflections. By Eugenio Gaddini. Edited by Adam Limentani. No. 16 in The New Library of Psychoanalysis edited by Elizabeth Bott Spillius. London: Routledge. £14.99. Pp. 220.

Review by:
Robert Whyte

This is a collection of papers. Gaddini (1916-1985) was a member of the Italian Psychoanalytic Society, who wrote both in Italian and English. Some of the papers in Italian were later published in English. Some have been translated for the first time for this book.

His special interest was the relationship of mental development to early, primitive bodily development. He believed that developing bodily functions conditioned the mind, creating models of functioning which later appeared at a mental level — a sort of progression from physiology to psychology, or from sensations to perceptions. Gaddini's theories are derived from, and amply illustrated by, clinical work. The first paper of the collection is ‘On Imitation’, which concept is clearly differentiated from introjection and identification. Imitation is seen as a means of perceiving and of ‘being’. His ideas about imitation are often repeated or developed in the later papers.

An enjoyable and more general paper is ‘Therapeutic Technique in Psychoanalysis: Research, Controversies and Evolution’. Amongst other things, Gaddini traces the development of technique from the stage where the analyst was supposed simply to be a reflecting screen to the stage where the analyst's personal response to the patient is seen as an important factor. Other especially good papers were ‘Notes on the Mind-Body Question’ and ‘The Pre-symbolic Activity of the Infant Mind’, both of which are concerned with Gaddini's special field of interest. Occasional dense accounts of instinct theory I found indigestible, but these were fortunately rare.

I was delighted to discover this author, who was was previously unknown to me. I think this book is essential reading for those who share Gaddini's special interest. Others would also, I think, find his writing thoughtful and stimulating.

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