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Gullestad, S. Gammelgaard, J. (1993). Å SI FRA. Autonomibegrepet I Psykoanalysen. The concept of autonomy in psychoanalysis.. Scand. Psychoanal. Rev., 16(2):164-168.

(1993). Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 16(2):164-168

Å SI FRA. Autonomibegrepet I Psykoanalysen. The concept of autonomy in psychoanalysis.

Review by:
Siri Erika Gullestad, Dr.philos

Judy Gammelgaard

Siri Gullestad has undertaken a difficult task. She has wanted to define a concept of autonomy within the compass of psychoanalytic theory, despite the fact that this concept never found systematic use in psychoanalysis and furthermore seems to be in conflict with some of the basic psychoanalytic theories, especially the concept of the unconscious.

However; Gullestad is convinced that the concept of autonomy is present implicitly in the therapeutic intentions of psychoanalysis and it is her aim to elucidate this and “give an exhaustive characteristic” (p. 210) of the concept. In a perspective of application, the aim is to allow autonomy to be a criterion for the evaluation of psychoanalytic therapy.

The synthesizing section of the thesis: “Autonomy as a psychological concept” (p. 139), which is the best section of the book, shows that, despite a difficult starting point, Gullestad's project must be considered both successful and in an original way contributing particularly to a discussion of the aim of the psychotherapeutic work.

I am more sceptical as to whether the project fulfills the promise, embedded in the title: to read the psychoanalytic concept of autonomy.

In the introduction, Gullestad proceeds directly to the point as to whether autonomy in psychoanalytic thinking can be said to be a contradictio in adjecto: how to argue in favour of such a concept within the theory, maintaining that Man is not even master of his own house?

Here, Gullestad postulates that autonomy is present “as value or ideal, as aim for the treatment and as basis for the psychoanalytical method” (p.

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