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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A riveting look inside the human brain and its quirks.

HALLUCINATIONS

Acclaimed British neurologist Sacks (Neurology and Psychiatry/Columbia Univ.; The Mind’s Eye, 2010, etc.) delves into the many different sorts of hallucinations that can be generated by the human mind.

The author assembles a wide range of case studies in hallucinations—seeing, hearing or otherwise perceiving things that aren’t there—and the varying brain quirks and disorders that cause them in patients who are otherwise mentally healthy. In each case, he presents a fascinating condition and then expounds on the neurological causes at work, drawing from his own work as a neurologist, as well as other case studies, letters from patients and even historical records and literature. For example, he tells the story of an elderly blind woman who “saw” strange people and animals in her room, caused by Charles Bonnet Syndrome, a condition in with the parts of the brain responsible for vision draw on memories instead of visual perceptions. In another chapter, Sacks recalls his own experimentation with drugs, describing his auditory hallucinations. He believed he heard his neighbors drop by for breakfast, and he cooked for them, “put their ham and eggs on a tray, walked into the living room—and found it completely empty.” He also tells of hallucinations in people who have undergone prolonged sensory deprivation and in those who suffer from Parkinson’s disease, migraines, epilepsy and narcolepsy, among other conditions. Although this collection of disorders feels somewhat formulaic, it’s a formula that has served Sacks well in several previous books (especially his 1985 bestseller The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat), and it’s still effective—largely because Sacks never turns exploitative, instead sketching out each illness with compassion and thoughtful prose.

A riveting look inside the human brain and its quirks.

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-95724-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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The book would have benefited from a tighter structure, but it’s inspiring and relatable for readers with depression.

THE HILARIOUS WORLD OF DEPRESSION

The creator and host of the titular podcast recounts his lifelong struggles with depression.

With the increasing success of his podcast, Moe, a longtime radio personality and author whose books include The Deleted E-Mails of Hillary Clinton: A Parody (2015), was encouraged to open up further about his own battles with depression and delve deeper into characteristics of the disease itself. Moe writes about how he has struggled with depression throughout his life, and he recounts similar experiences from the various people he has interviewed in the past, many of whom are high-profile entertainers and writers—e.g. Dick Cavett and Andy Richter, novelist John Green. The narrative unfolds in a fairly linear fashion, and the author relates his family’s long history with depression and substance abuse. His father was an alcoholic, and one of his brothers was a drug addict. Moe tracks how he came to recognize his own signs of depression while in middle school, as he experienced the travails of OCD and social anxiety. These early chapters alternate with brief thematic “According to THWoD” sections that expand on his experiences, providing relevant anecdotal stories from some of his podcast guests. In this early section of the book, the author sometimes rambles. Though his experiences as an adolescent are accessible, he provides too many long examples, overstating his message, and some of the humor feels forced. What may sound naturally breezy in his podcast interviews doesn’t always strike the same note on the written page. The narrative gains considerable momentum when Moe shifts into his adult years and the challenges of balancing family and career while also confronting the devastating loss of his brother from suicide. As he grieved, he writes, his depression caused him to experience “a salad of regret, anger, confusion, and horror.” Here, the author focuses more attention on the origins and evolution of his series, stories that prove compelling as well.

The book would have benefited from a tighter structure, but it’s inspiring and relatable for readers with depression.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20928-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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