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Roth, D. (2001). Objects of Hope: Exploring Possibility and Limits in Psychoanalysis. By Steven H. Cooper. Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press, 2000, 321 pp.. Psychoanal. Rev., 88(6):875-879.

(2001). Psychoanalytic Review, 88(6):875-879


Objects of Hope: Exploring Possibility and Limits in Psychoanalysis. By Steven H. Cooper. Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press, 2000, 321 pp.

Review by:
Debra Roth, CSW

In describing the often unconscious determination that patients and their analysts share toward the desire to generate change, Steven H. Cooper uses the unlikely, yet evocative term, “hellbent.” Indeed, Cooper himself displays an analogous kind of fierce and persistent in tention in his Objects of Hope: Exploring Possibility and Limits in Psychoanalysis. He is hellbent on using his influence, both interpretive and didactic, to get us to think more fully about the forms, uses, and meanings hope can assume in the analytic encounter. In keeping a promise he implies in his preface, he becomes neither a reductionist nor a Pollyanna in his far-ranging examination of this often unarticulated aspect of mutual analytic influence.

Cooper organizes his exploration of the dialectical, as well as the paradoxical, characteristics of hope by grounding it in an exposition of the ways in which competing schools of psychoanalytic theory understand such diverse analytic concepts as solitude, containment, regression, countertransference expressiveness, and interpretation. More than an exercise in comparative psychoanalysis, however, Cooper's book works to create a rich and provocative synthesis, intertwining aspects of American relational theory with British object relations concepts and American ego psychology in the service of broadening our theoretical and technical perspectives. As if this were not a complicated enough task, Cooper then incorporates an exploration of analytic possibility and limitation as it relates to the locations of hope and the meanings we ascribe to it. All of this makes for a prodigious intellectual task and Cooper's level of erudition is well up to it.

In elucidating a central premise, that all psychoanalytic theory is in some sense a polemic of hope, Cooper gives us a book divided into three parts, with chapter one serving as a kind of introduction and schematic of what is to follow.

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