MOTHERS OF PSYCHOANALYSIS

HELENE DEUTSCH, KAREN HORNEY, ANNA FREUD AND MELANIE KLEIN

A notable, if occasionally impenetrable, attempt to trace the shift of psychoanalysis from a patriarchal to a matriarchal emphasis by analyzing the lives and works of the most prominent female successors to Freud. Wary of the ``one-dimensional'' mother-centered bias of contemporary psychoanalysis, Sayers, a British psychotherapist, insists that close study of the works of pioneering female psychoanalysts Helene Deutsch, Karen Horney, Anna Freud, and Melanie Klein reveals that ``in drawing attention to mothering, they seldom lost sight of the patriarchal determinants of our psychology.'' Nevertheless, their own experiences as mothers, albeit secondhand in Anna Freud's case, led to a radical transformation of the Oedipal scheme and a new awareness of the effect of social factors on the individual psyche. For Deutsch, this took the form of the first discrete analysis of women's psychology as well as path-finding studies of narcissistic personality disorder. The more iconoclastic Horney, attacking ``penis envy'' with her countervailing description of ``womb envy,'' went on to co-found (with Erich Fromm) the sociologically based ``culturalist'' school of psychoanalysis. Concentrating on child psychology, Freud used her wartime nursery experience to focus on different therapeutic approaches to children, while Klein pioneered play therapy, object-relations theory, and the treatment of schizophrenic and autistic patients. The biographical approach here allows Sayers to note the apparent direct correlation between the thinkers' favorable view of their own fathers (adored by Deutsch and Freud; disdained by Horney and Klein) and adherence to a strict Freudian line. At the same time, the narrative's fragmented structure, with each figure discussed separately, prevents a sustained analysis of the interrelations between four women who all knew (and frequently battled) one another. And Sayers's references to ongoing controversies in the field may prove confusing to a general audience. Ambitious and often penetrating, a laudable effort to explain the origins of, and restore balance to, current psychoanalytic debate. (For a complementary study of early male successors to Freud, see Phyllis Grosskurth's The Secret Ring, p. 1134.) (Photographs.)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1991

ISBN: 0-393-03041-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1991

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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