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Roazen, P. (2004). Charles Rycroft and Ablation. Psychoanal. Rev., 91(4):591-606.

(2004). Psychoanalytic Review, 91(4):591-606

Charles Rycroft and Ablation

Paul Roazen, Ph.D.

Although it is a pleasure for me to try to pay tribute to Charles Rycroft's (1914-1998) originality within psychoanalysis, it is, of course, sad that he is not alive to hear the kind of heartfelt tributes that he fully deserved to hear. I knew him from 1965 until 1998, and I would guess that he was shy enough not to have appreciated his success as an independent thinker. We fell into a pattern of usually seeing each other at dinner when I happened to come over to London, but I have checked my files and there are also approximately 80 letters from Charles there. On one of our last evenings together, he did remark that he felt his career as an analyst had been “ruined” by the respective power of two women, Melanie Klein and Anna Freud. It is no doubt true that Charles's reputation and standing temporarily suffered from the complex politics of British psychoanalysis then, when ideological contests made it difficult for independent-minded people to win recognition. Although his A Critical Dictionary of Psychoanalysis (1968/1995) has become influential and widely sold, a book like The Innocence of Dreams, (1979) even though admired by someone like Graham Greene, did not do as well in terms of sales as one might expect.

At the same time I think that it would be understandable if Charles underestimated his own achievement; although books of essays and reviews cannot be expected to prosper commercially, his work was, if only because of the impact of his publishing in The New York Review of Books, capable of being widely influential.

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