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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The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

THE LAWS OF HUMAN NATURE

A follow-on to the author’s garbled but popular 48 Laws of Power, promising that readers will learn how to win friends and influence people, to say nothing of outfoxing all those “toxic types” out in the world.

Greene (Mastery, 2012, etc.) begins with a big sell, averring that his book “is designed to immerse you in all aspects of human behavior and illuminate its root causes.” To gauge by this fat compendium, human behavior is mostly rotten, a presumption that fits with the author’s neo-Machiavellian program of self-validation and eventual strategic supremacy. The author works to formula: First, state a “law,” such as “confront your dark side” or “know your limits,” the latter of which seems pale compared to the Delphic oracle’s “nothing in excess.” Next, elaborate on that law with what might seem to be as plain as day: “Losing contact with reality, we make irrational decisions. That is why our success often does not last.” One imagines there might be other reasons for the evanescence of glory, but there you go. Finally, spin out a long tutelary yarn, seemingly the longer the better, to shore up the truism—in this case, the cometary rise and fall of one-time Disney CEO Michael Eisner, with the warning, “his fate could easily be yours, albeit most likely on a smaller scale,” which ranks right up there with the fortuneteller’s “I sense that someone you know has died" in orders of probability. It’s enough to inspire a new law: Beware of those who spend too much time telling you what you already know, even when it’s dressed up in fresh-sounding terms. “Continually mix the visceral with the analytic” is the language of a consultant’s report, more important-sounding than “go with your gut but use your head, too.”

The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-42814-5

Page Count: 580

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should...

MASTERY

Greene (The 33 Strategies of War, 2007, etc.) believes that genius can be learned if we pay attention and reject social conformity.

The author suggests that our emergence as a species with stereoscopic, frontal vision and sophisticated hand-eye coordination gave us an advantage over earlier humans and primates because it allowed us to contemplate a situation and ponder alternatives for action. This, along with the advantages conferred by mirror neurons, which allow us to intuit what others may be thinking, contributed to our ability to learn, pass on inventions to future generations and improve our problem-solving ability. Throughout most of human history, we were hunter-gatherers, and our brains are engineered accordingly. The author has a jaundiced view of our modern technological society, which, he writes, encourages quick, rash judgments. We fail to spend the time needed to develop thorough mastery of a subject. Greene writes that every human is “born unique,” with specific potential that we can develop if we listen to our inner voice. He offers many interesting but tendentious examples to illustrate his theory, including Einstein, Darwin, Mozart and Temple Grandin. In the case of Darwin, Greene ignores the formative intellectual influences that shaped his thought, including the discovery of geological evolution with which he was familiar before his famous voyage. The author uses Grandin's struggle to overcome autistic social handicaps as a model for the necessity for everyone to create a deceptive social mask.

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should beware of the author's quirky, sometimes misleading brush-stroke characterizations.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02496-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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