Mitchell and Black bring clarity to the complex, confusing world of contemporary psychoanalysis. More specifically, they outline the development of what Mitchell, an analyst at the William Alanson White Institute in New York City, has elsewhere called ``relational concepts'' in psychoanalysis. That is, they trace the shift from Freud's drive- based theory, in which relationships with other people are secondary to one's internal wishes and needs, to more recent theories in which the impulse to relate to others is seen as primary. Ego is privileged over id and analysis is viewed as a joint, subjective effort by patient and analyst, rather than as objective interpretation by the analyst alone. Mitchell and Black (of the National Institute for Psychology) offer a lucid discussion of many major psychoanalytic thinkers, using case histories to illustrate the application of their ideas. Melanie Klein offers a dark view of life as an attempt to balance aggressive and libidinal impulses. Object-relations theorist D.W. Winnicott highlights the role of parenting in the development of an authentic sense of self. Erik Erikson considers the cultural context for ego development, and Heinz Kohut the need for the analyst to understand the patient's internal state of mind. Even the obscure work of French analyst Jacques Lacan becomes almost comprehensible in the authors' capable hands. Mitchell has covered much of this material elsewhere (most powerfully in Hope and Dread in Psychoanalysis, not reviewed). And one should be wary of the subtitle: Given the ``relational'' perspective here, much is omitted, such as Jungian thought, and as important a thinker as Karen Horney is mentioned only in passing in a brief overview of feminist critiques of psychoanalysis. So this volume is by no means comprehensive. But it is an excellent starting place for anyone unfamiliar with the radical shift psychoanalytic thinking has undergone since Freud.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 1995

ISBN: 0-465-01404-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Basic Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1995



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

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. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011


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

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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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