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FREUD AND BEYOND by Stephen A. Mitchell


A History of Modern Psychoanalytic Thought

by Stephen A. Mitchell & Margaret J. Black

Pub Date: Oct. 11th, 1995
ISBN: 0-465-01404-6
Publisher: Basic Books

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.