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Rossi, P.L. (1992). Arnold H. Modell. Psicoanalisi in un nuovo contesto. Cortina, Milan, 1992, 242 pages, 38.000 lire.. Rivista Psicoanal., 38(4):1138-1148.

(1992). Rivista di Psicoanalisi, 38(4):1138-1148

Book Reviews

Arnold H. Modell. Psicoanalisi in un nuovo contesto. Cortina, Milan, 1992, 242 pages, 38.000 lire. Language Translation

Review by:
Pier Luigi Rossi

After having published Object Love and Reality with which readers in Italy are already familiar, in the course of the seventies Modell wrote almost all the articles collected in this volume. The “new context” mentioned in the title of the work is the context of a “bipersonal” psychology suited to representing the character of the analytic situation, which is also bipersonal. The Author does not present himself as the champion of new paradigms, so readers who are already fed up with new paradigms need not be alarmed, nor need they be afraid they are going to waste their time if they read the book. We might say without reservation that the new context is the context the analyst already finds himself working in, especially if we remember the changes in his patients that have taken place: patients with narcissistic personalities are no longer an exception. The Author's description of this new clinical situation is coupled with his unflagging interest in the cruces of theory, which he discusses anew, underlining particularly the limits of the structural point of view in psychoanalysis. Our almost exclusive attention to the intrapsychic is reduced. At the end of the work there is a “sociological postscript” in which Modell asks why such changes in the clinical situation have come about and rejects the idea that we are dealing with a mere epiphenomenon: in the case of narcissistic personalities, it is the analytic process itself that is different from the typical process we find in so-called classic cases. Modell concludes that the development of this sort of personality has been greatly influenced by a lack of emotional response and a high livel of intrusion, and furthermore believes that this is a sign of a cultural change, which has had a certain impact on the ego. Modell rejects the hypothesis that a cultural change is transmitted indirectly through the personality of the parents, preferring instead the hypothesis that a direct transmission is experienced by the individual during adolescence, and this accentuates already existing personality traits.

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