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Moscato, F. Solano, P. (2012). Illusions and Disillusions of Psychoanalytic Work. By André Green. London: Karnac, 2011, xxxvii + 218 pp.. Psychoanal. Rev., 99(6):911-916.

(2012). Psychoanalytic Review, 99(6):911-916


Illusions and Disillusions of Psychoanalytic Work. By André Green. London: Karnac, 2011, xxxvii + 218 pp.

Review by:
Francesca Moscato, M.D.

Paola Solano, M.D.

“Stand on the shoulders of giants.”

—Bernard of Chartres, 1126

André Green died last January in Paris. He was renowned worldwide and was one of the main representatives of contemporary French psychoanalysis. The originality of his thought epitomizes an international spirit of independence which involves not only his work but his whole life. Influenced by both French and British psychoanalysis—in particular by Lacan, Winnicott, and Bion—his work gathers different perspectives. In his last book, Illusions and Disillusions of Psychoanalytic Work, Green “gathers together the ideas derived from his least fortunate experiences” (p. xxvii) based on more than fifty years of work in order to “throw light on a clinical picture which has seemed to him, rightly or wrongly, to have been somewhat neglected by his contemporaries” (p. xxviii), that is, severe narcissistic psychopathologies, to which he has devoted most of his contribution and life. To him we owe the description of conditions such as the “work of the negative,” that is, a destructuring influence of psychic life “aiming to the radical elimination of object relations and pervasive negation of the need for libidinal relationships” (Kernberg, 1999, p. 14) leading to “psychic desertification,” “negative hallucinations,” and “blank psychosis.”

Here Green “draws attention to the tenacity of fixations, the power of destructive drives, the “solidified” character of masochism, the difficulty the ego has in giving up its archaic narcissistic defenses, and the rigidity of resistances” (p. 95). “So, I am speaking here about the real disillusions of analytic work, that is, those that do not simply cause temporary disappointments which work out in the end” (p. 95), Green affirms. Although readers could get the impression of a pessimistic attitude toward the analytic work, Green declares that his “intention … is to ensure that we are better informed about the particular forms the analytic work can take when it gets into difficulty so that we can improve our means of overcoming impasses” (p. 96).

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