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Greenstadt, W.M. (1980). Faces in a Cloud: Subjectivity in Personality Theory. Robert D. Stolorow and George E. Atwood. New York: Jason Aronson, 1979. 217 pages.. Psychoanal. Rev., 67(1):147-149.

(1980). Psychoanalytic Review, 67(1):147-149

Book Reviews

Faces in a Cloud: Subjectivity in Personality Theory. Robert D. Stolorow and George E. Atwood. New York: Jason Aronson, 1979. 217 pages.

Review by:
William M. Greenstadt

Although the premises upon which this book is based are essentially sound, the end-product is disappointing. Stolorow and Atwood set themselves three aims: (1) to join in the current, “in-house” critique of metapsychology; (2) to present a new theoretical approach—“psychoanalytic phenomenology”—to replace the epistemologically discredited metapsychological systems; and (3) to sketch psychobiological vignettes of four great theoreticians in order to substantiate the claim that aspects of their metapsychologies are essentially personalized projections of their own “inner” worlds upon the screen of scientific explanation.

When Hartmann sought to incorporate psychoanalysis into general psychology, the way was opened to examine its viability from the viewpoint of the philosophy of science. The economic point of view and the setting up of homunculi (id, ego, and superego) within the person proper have met with the most devastating criticism. The quest is on to find adequate models which can be used to deal with the phenomena of mental conflict, but thus far no such proposal has gained widespread acceptance. “Action Language” (Schafer). and “systems” models (Peterfreund) have been but two such attempts. At the heart of the controversy appears to be the question of whether or not it is now possible to construct a truly explanatory set of psychoanalytic theoretical propositions, or whether our language and assumptions do not permit us, at present, to go beyond the level of what Rubinstein has called “mere description.

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