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Freud: A Modern Reader

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Ed. Rosine J. Perelberg
Published by Whurr Publishers 2005
Catalogue No. : 21399
ISBN: 1861564023

£25

This much-awaited textbook makes accessible the ideas of one of the most important thinkers of our time, as well as indicating how Freud's theories are put into clinical practice today. The collection of papers has been written by some of the most eminent psychoanalysts, both from Britain and abroad, who have made an original contribution to psychoanalysis. Each chapter introduces one of Freud's key texts, and links it to contemporary thinking in the field of psychoanalysis. The book combines a deep understanding of Freud's work with some of the most modern debates surrounding it. This book will be of great value across a wide spectrum of courses in psychoanalysis, as well as to the scholar interested in psychoanalytic ideas.

Contributors; Ron Britton, Susan Budd, Don Campbell, Catherine Chabert, Monique Cournut, Gilbert Diatkine, Andre Green, Jean Claude Rolland, Luiz Eduardo Prado de Oliveira, Ignes Sodre, John Steiner, Jane Temperley, Margret Tonnesmann, Paul Williams, and Rosine Jozef Perelberg.

"For decades students of Freud have struggled to grasp the evolution of his ideas and their place in contemporary psychoanalytic theory and practice. Rosine Perelberg's new volume responds to that struggle with a masterful reader's guide that places Freud's thinking in its historical context and that breathes life into some of his most arcane metapsychological concepts. Moreover, the book also sheds light on cross-cultural currents in psychoanalysis as it is practiced today by drawing equally from French and British authors. This impressive piece of work will be ideal for teachers of Freud in the academy and in psychoanalytic institutes, but it will be of equal value to experienced analysts who wish to plumb the depths of Freud and his contribution.”
Glen O. Gabbard, Brown Foundation Chair of Psychoanalysis and Professor of Psychiatry, Baylor College of Medicine; Joint Editor-in-Chief, International Journal of Psychoanalysis
“Rosine Perelberg has invited an impressive list of British and French psychoanalysts to contribute to this contemporary Freud Reader, thus establishing an important and productive dialogue between two different psychoanalytic traditions. Perelberg excellent introduction is a tour de force that organises Freud's thinking in an original way, around central themes and conceptual frameworks. The book is an enlightening guide that will help students and professionals alike to re-discover the Freudian texts. A very useful and welcome companion to Freud's work".
 
Gregorio Kohon,
Training and Supervising Analyst of the British Psychoanalytical Society.

 




Freud: A Modern Reader edited by R. J. Perelberg (Whurr, London &
Philadelphia, 2005). 297 pp. £24.99 (paperback).

ROSEMARY DAVIES
24 Romilly Road, London N4 2QX

Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Journal September 2006


This is an excellent selection of previously unpublished papers by British and
French psychoanalysts on Freud’s major papers. It will be welcomed by
clinicians, scholars and those more generally interested in Freud. Across the
psychoanalytic spectrum we are exercised by how best to approach and teach
Freud and this collection makes an invaluable contribution to our endeavour
to keep alive a rigorous and passionate interest in one of our greatest
thinkers.

Perelberg introduces the book with a characteristically scholarly and
inclusive chapter which summarizes the collection as a whole. While the
authors ‘follow Freud step by step in the unfolding of his thinking’ (Rolland,
p. 107), the conceptual and clinical interest of each author is reflected in
their own particular reading of the specific texts. Perelberg concludes her
introductory chapter with her own overview of Freud’s work. I like her
summary:

What remains at the heart of Freud’s thinking to my mind, is the notion
of movement. Freud’s shifts in theoretical thinking do not eliminate
previous ways of thinking. He is both a rationalist and a hermeneutic,
he is interested in love and hate, feminine and masculine, real events
and phantasies, libidinal drives and destructive drives, remembering
and repeating, past and present (p. 23) … sometimes he was led by the
need to understand clinical material…at other moments Freud’s models
are pushed ‘forward’ by contradictions derived from the theory itself
(p. 24).

Perelberg reminds us that psychoanalysis does not belong to one tradition and
she has invited analysts from two diverse traditions, the French and the
British, to write on aspects of Freud’s work in which they are particularly
interested. She alludes also to a shared issue for both traditions: what is lost in translation? Perelberg describes some of the aspects of this creative discourse between the French and British analysts. I found the different conceptual focus exemplified in Cournut-Janin’s paper on Dora. Cournut-Janin regards Dora as a ‘key text on the feminine’ and particularly draws our attention to the second footnote to the text in which Freud comments on Dora’s love for Frau K.
Those of us in the British tradition are schooled more in the first
footnote in which Freud describes his failure to attend to the transference.
Cournut-Janin includes this but focuses more on Freud’s thinking on female
psychosexuality. She hypothesizes that we can read here a depth of
understanding of female sexuality from which Freud regrettably turned away
in his later theory.

Some of the writers are well known to a British readership. For example:
Britton writes on Anna O where he describes the ‘bodily based psychic drama’
(p. 41) in which the hysteric’s omnipotent phantasy of projective identification
allows her to believe she is one of the primal couple. Steiner illuminates the
‘anguish’ of Schreber in a modern context, describing Schreber’s ‘delusional
system as a psychic retreat based on a psychotic organisation’ (p. 196). Sodré elaborates Freud’s view in Mourning and Melancholia that the complex of melancholia behaves like an open wound and she uses clinical and literary texts to exemplify the complex identifications and introjections involved in this
wounded state. Tonnesman, known as a great Freudian teacher by generations of psychotherapy and psychoanalytic candidates, writes a scholarly piece on Freud’s shift from the topographical to the structural model.

On the other hand, for many of us the most we have read of French
psychoanalysis is Green, who is here represented by a piece on Freud’s On
Negation: a treasured paper for French scholars but strangely often overlooked
by the British. This collection gives us access to more of the French
tradition. Perelberg includes papers by analysts, well-known in their own
country, translated into English for the first time here. I choose to mention
one of these papers which I particularly relished, not to diminish the high
quality of other papers but to illustrate how specific papers are relevant for us
in differing ways. In recent years I have been challenged by the demands of
teaching Freud’s metapsychological papers: Rolland’s paper will ease my task.
He describes how Freud in these ‘strange’ papers is ‘sweeping out the
workshop’. Just as Freud demanded of us clinically, so he demands of us
conceptually that our ‘unconscious as readers is required to participate
with the author’s unconscious … this is a call to work imposed by the
theoretician to make clinical experience ever more coherent’ (p. 97). Rolland
outlines in this context the roots of the challenging paper Beyond the Pleasure
Principle.

The selection as a whole is usefully divided into The Early Phase; The Birth
of Psychoanalysis; Metapsychology; The Structural Model of the Mind; Some
Further Clinical Cases; and the Later papers. So as well as papers described
above the collection includes: Temperley on Little Hans; Perelberg on On
Narcissism; de Oliveira on The Unconscious; Diatkine on Beyond the Pleasure
Principle; Williams on The Rat Man; Perelberg on The Wolf Man; Chabert on A
Child is Being Beaten; Budd on A Case of Female Homosexuality; and Campbell on Splitting of the Ego in the Process of Defence.

The nature of the debate in this collection is not of one tradition taking up
an entrenched position hurling brickbats at another; rather it provides the
reader with the pleasure of discerning difference without encountering
contempt. There are places where the debate is made explicit, for example
Budd usefully summarizes the debate on female sexuality in her paper; and
Rolland and Diatkine outline their differing views on the death instinct as
introduced in Beyond the Pleasure Principle. However, this is not only a
collection reflecting varying psychoanalytic traditions, it is a fine tribute to
Freud’s great work and aptly so as we celebrate his one hundred and fiftieth
anniversary.

ROSEMARY DAVIES
24 Romilly Road, London N4 2QX

Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Journal September 2006





 


     


     

     


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