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Radomisli, M. (1973-74). Some Concepts in Search of a Theory: Depression: Comparative Studies of Normal, Neurotic, and Psychotic Conditions. Edith Jacobson. New York: International Universities Press, 1971. ix + 353.. Psychoanal. Rev., 60(4):557-573.

(1973-74). Psychoanalytic Review, 60(4):557-573

Special Book Review

Some Concepts in Search of a Theory: Depression: Comparative Studies of Normal, Neurotic, and Psychotic Conditions. Edith Jacobson. New York: International Universities Press, 1971. ix + 353.

Review by:
Michel Radomisli

One of the giants of psychoanalysis has presented us with a major work, the organizing theme of which is depression. It consists of some chapters written recently and others written ten, twenty, or thirty years ago and recently revised. It contains clinical observations, thoughts, hypotheses, and theories that are rich, instructive, and awesome, sometimes evoking immediate inner affirmation, sometimes providing the satisfaction of following a riddle to its elegant solution, and at times reflecting the privilege of someone of Edith Jacobson's stature to speak ex cathedra.

Jacobson examines normal moods and affects as well as depressive states in different clinical conditions—neurosis, borderline states, manic-depressive psychosis, and paranoia. The first chapter is a discussion of basic problems and unsolved issues in the psychoanalytic theory of affects; the rest of the book has a clinical emphasis and is based on patients treated psychoanalytically, with necessary parameters. Case material for Part I is derived from neurotic patients, for Part II from borderline and psychotic patients who suffered from depression. An appendix supplies follow-up information about some of the patients, in several cases up to twenty-five years after treatment.

The usual descriptive and evaluative review is superfluous for this book. Any practicing clinician whose work has been illuminated by the thought of Freud and of his successors will be familiar with much of its content in its prior versions.

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