email page print pageAll Topic Reviews
Maximizing Effectiveness in Dynamic Psychotherapy Self-Compassion in Psychotherapy101 Healing StoriesA Clinician's Guide to Legal Issues in PsychotherapyA Map of the MindA Primer for Beginning PsychotherapyACT With LoveActive Treatment of DepressionAffect Regulation, Mentalization, and the Development of SelfAlready FreeBad TherapyBecoming an Effective PsychotherapistBefore ForgivingBeing a Brain-Wise TherapistBetrayed as BoysBeyond Evidence-Based PsychotherapyBeyond MadnessBeyond PostmodernismBinge No MoreBiofeedback for the BrainBipolar DisorderBody PsychotherapyBoundaries and Boundary Violations in PsychoanalysisBrain Change TherapyBrain Science and Psychological DisordersBrain-Based Therapy with AdultsBrain-Based Therapy with Children and AdolescentsBrief Adolescent Therapy Homework PlannerBrief Child Therapy Homework PlannerBrief Therapy Homework PlannerBuffy the Vampire Slayer and PhilosophyBuilding on BionCare of the PsycheCase Studies in DepressionCaught in the NetChild and Adolescent Treatment for Social Work PracticeChoosing an Online TherapistChronic DepressionClinical Dilemmas in PsychotherapyClinical Handbook of Psychological DisordersClinical Intuition in PsychotherapyClinical Pearls of WisdomCo-Creating ChangeCognitive Therapy for Challenging ProblemsCompassionConfessions of a Former ChildConfidential RelationshipsConfidentiality and Mental HealthConfidingContemplative Psychotherapy EssentialsControlConversations About Psychology and Sexual OrientationCoping with BPDCouch FictionCounseling in GenderlandCounseling with Choice TheoryCouple SkillsCrazy for YouCreating a Life of Meaning and CompassionCreating HysteriaCritical Issues in PsychotherapyCrucial Choices, Crucial ChangesDeafness In MindDecoding the Ethics CodeDeconstructing PsychotherapyDeep Brain StimulationDemystifying TherapyDepression 101Depression in ContextDialogues on DifferenceDissociative ChildrenDo-It-Yourself Eye Movement Techniques for Emotional HealingDoing CBTE-TherapyEarly WarningEncountering the Sacred in PsychotherapyEnergy Psychology InteractiveErrant SelvesEssays on Philosophical CounselingEssentials of Wais-III AssessmentEthically Challenged ProfessionsEthics and Values in PsychotherapyEthics in Plain EnglishEthics in Psychotherapy and CounselingExpectationExploring the Self through PhotographyExpressing EmotionFacing Human SufferingFairbairn's Object Relations Theory in the Clinical SettingFamily TherapyFavorite Counseling and Therapy Homework AssignmentsFear of IntimacyFlourishingFolie a DeuxForms of Intersubjectivity in Infant Reasearch and Adult TreatmentFoundations of Ethical Practice, Research, and Teaching in PsychologyFreud and the Question of PseudoscienceFrom Morality to Mental HealthFundamentals of Psychoanalytic TechniqueGenes on the CouchGod & TherapyHalf Empty, Half FullHandbook of Clinical Psychopharmacology for TherapistsHandbook of Counseling and Psychotherapy with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual ClientsHandbook of Evidence-Based Therapies for Children and AdolescentsHealing the Heart and Mind with MindfulnessHeinz KohutHelping Children Cope With Disasters and TerrorismHigh RiskHistory of PsychotherapyHow and Why Are Some Therapists Better Than Others?How Clients Make Therapy WorkHow People ChangeHow Psychotherapists DevelopHow to Fail As a TherapistHow to Go to TherapyHypnosis for Inner Conflict ResolutionHypnosis for Smoking CessationI Never Promised You a Rose GardenIf Only I Had KnownIn Others' EyesIn SessionIn Therapy We TrustIn Treatment: Season 1Incorporating Spirituality in Counseling and PsychotherapyInside the SessionInside TherapyIs Long-Term Therapy Unethical?Issues in Philosophical CounselingIt's Not as Bad as It SeemsItís Your HourLearning from Our MistakesLearning Supportive PsychotherapyLetters to a Young TherapistLife CoachingLogotherapy and Existential AnalysisLove's ExecutionerMadness and DemocracyMaking the Big LeapMan's Search for MeaningMetaphoria: Metaphor and Guided Metaphor for Psychotherapy and HealingMind GamesMindfulness and AcceptanceMindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for DepressionMindworks: An Introduction to NLPMockingbird YearsMoments of EngagementMomma and the Meaning of LifeMotivational Interviewing: Preparing People For ChangeMulticulturalism and the Therapeutic ProcessMultifamily Groups in the Treatment of Severe Psychiatric DisordersNarrative PracticeOn the CouchOne Nation Under TherapyOur Inner WorldOur Last Great IllusionOutsider ArtOutsider Art and Art TherapyOvercoming Destructive Beliefs, Feelings, and BehaviorsOverexposedPathways to SpiritualityPersonality and PsychotherapyPhilosophical CounselingPhilosophical Counselling and the UnconsciousPhilosophical Issues in Counseling and PsychotherapyPhilosophical PracticePhilosophy and PsychotherapyPhilosophy for Counselling and PsychotherapyPhilosophy PracticePhilosophy's Role in Counseling and PsychotherapyPillar of SaltPlan BPlato, Not Prozac!Polarities of ExperiencesPower GamesPractical Psychoanalysis for Therapists and PatientsPrinciples and Practice of Sex TherapyPsychologists Defying the CrowdPsychology, Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis, and the Politics of Human RelationshipsPsychosis in the FamilyPsychotherapyPsychotherapyPsychotherapy and ConfidentialityPsychotherapy As PraxisPsychotherapy for Children and AdolescentsPsychotherapy for Personality DisordersPsychotherapy Is Worth ItPsychotherapy Isn't What You ThinkPsychotherapy with Adolescent Girls and Young WomenPsychotherapy with Children and AdolescentsPsychotherapy without the SelfPsychotherapy, American Culture, and Social PolicyRapid Cognitive TherapyRational Emotive Behavior TherapyRational Emotive Behavior TherapyRationality and the Pursuit of HappinessRebuilding Shattered LivesReclaiming Our ChildrenRecovery OptionsRelationalityRent Two Films and Let's Talk in the MorningSaving the Modern SoulScience and Pseudoscience in Clinical PsychologySecond-order Change in PsychotherapySelf-Compassion in PsychotherapySelf-Determination Theory in the ClinicSelf-Disclosure in Psychotherapy and RecoverySerious ShoppingSex, Therapy, and KidsSexual Orientation and Psychodynamic PsychotherapySigns of SafetySoul Murder RevisitedStaring at the SunStraight to JesusStrangers to OurselvesSubjective Experience and the Logic of the OtherTaking America Off DrugsTales of PsychotherapyTales of UnknowingTalk is Not EnoughTalking Cures and Placebo EffectsTelling SecretsThe Behavioral Medicine Treatment PlannerThe Body in PsychotherapyThe Brief Couples Therapy Homework Planner with DiskThe Case Formulation Approach to Cognitive-Behavior TherapyThe Challenge for Psychoanalysis and PsychotherapyThe Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe Clinical Child Documentation SourcebookThe Clinical Documentation SourcebookThe Complete Adult Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe Couch and the TreeThe Couples Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe Crucible of ExperienceThe Cure of SoulsThe Death of PsychotherapyThe Education of Mrs. BemisThe Ethical Treatment of DepressionThe Ethics of PsychoanalysisThe Gay and Lesbian Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe Gift of TherapyThe Great Psychotherapy Debate: The Evidence for What Makes Psychotherapy Work The Healing JourneyThe Heart & Soul of ChangeThe Heroic ClientThe Husbands and Wives ClubThe Love CureThe Making of a TherapistThe Mindful TherapistThe Mirror Crack'dThe Mummy at the Dining Room TableThe Neuroscience of PsychotherapyThe Neuroscience of Psychotherapy: Healing the Social BrainThe New Rational TherapyThe Older Adult Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe Other Side of DesireThe Pastoral Counseling Treatment PlannerThe Philosopher's Autobiography The Pornographer's GriefThe Portable CoachThe Portable Ethicist for Mental Health Professionals The Present Moment in Psychotherapy and Everyday LifeThe Problem of EvilThe Problem with Cognitive Behavioural TherapyThe Psychodynamics of Gender and Gender RoleThe Psychotherapy Documentation PrimerThe Psychotherapy Documentation PrimerThe Psychotherapy of HopeThe Real World Guide to Psychotherapy PracticeThe Schopenhauer CureThe Sex Lives of TeenagersThe Talking CureThe Therapeutic "Aha!"The Therapist's Guide to PsychopharmacologyThe Therapist's Guide to Psychopharmacology, Revised EditionThe Therapist's Ultimate Solution BookThe Trauma of Everyday LifeThe Trouble with IllnessThe UnsayableThe Way of the JournalTheory and Practice of Brief TherapyTherapy with ChildrenTherapy's DelusionsTheraScribe 3.0 for WindowsTheraScribe 4.0Thinking about ThinkingThinking for CliniciansThinking for CliniciansThoughts Without a ThinkerThriveToward a Psychology of AwakeningTracking Mental Health OutcomesTrauma, Truth and ReconciliationTreating Attachment DisordersTreatment for Chronic DepressionTreatment Plans and Interventions for Depression and Anxiety DisordersUnderstanding Child MolestersUnspeakable Truths and Happy EndingsWhat the Buddha FeltWhat Works for Whom?What Works for Whom? Second EditionWhen the Body SpeaksWhispers from the EastWise TherapyWittgenstein and PsychotherapyWorking MindsWoulda, Coulda, ShouldaWriting About PatientsYoga Skills for Therapists:Yoga Therapy
Leonard Shengold is a practicing psychoanalyst affiliated with the Psychoanalytic Institute at New York University. Soul Murder Revisited continues the themes presented in his 1989 book Soul Murder, in which he explored various forms of child abuse and deprivation, and the accompanying psychological trauma that often follows victims into adulthood. "Soul murder" is a continual theme in Shengolds writings, and this latest book is the latest in a long line of writings on this subject: "Dickens, Little Dorrit, and Soul Murder," in Psychoanalytic Quarterly 57 (1988); "The Effects of Child Abuse as Seen in Adults: George Orwell," Psychoanalytic Quarterly 54 (1985); "Kaspar Hauser and Soul Murder: A Study of Deprivation," International Review of Psychoanalysis 5 (1978); and "An Attempt at Soul Murder: Rudyard Kiplings Early Life and Work," Psychoanalytic Study of the Child 30 (1975). As this partial list reveals, a particularly interesting feature of Shengolds work is the use he makes of historical and literary subjects, and his descriptions of the ways in which writers who suffered abuse and neglect used their creative powers to transcend the pain and psychological damage inflicted by early childhood trauma. Particularly poignant in Soul Murder Revisited is Shengolds in-depth descriptions of the writers Algernon Swinburne and Elizabeth Bishop. Shengold says of these and the other writers he profiles: "Some of their talents may have been adaptively motivated and enhanced...by the need to master the traumata, the attempts at soul murder, that occurred in their childhood" (13).
Shengold defines "soul murder" as "the apparently willful abuse and neglect of children by adults that are of sufficient intensity and frequency to be traumatic." For the children who have suffered thus, "what has happened to them has dominated their motivating unconscious fantasies; and they have become subject to the compulsion to repeat the cruelty, violence, neglect, hatred, seduction, and rape of their injurious past" (1). Soul murder, says Shengold, "distort[s] and inhibit[s] the emotional life of the child...tends to destroy the childs capacity for joy and inhibit the power to care and to love...it is especially damaging to the capacity for love that can partially transcend narcissism, permitting caring for others" (114). This mistreatment of children by the adults who are charged with their care, says Shengold, is "based on something inherent in human nature--a destructive and sadistic drive" (2). And because such behavior has its origin in human nature itself, Shengold states that such abuse will never disappear.
Shengold maintains a high degree of empathy with the child victims whose sufferings he documents, while never relinquishing a distinctly psychoanalytic perspective and mode of interpretation. In holding this intermediary position between empathy and the kind of therapeutic objectivity that facilitates insight, Shengold distinguishes himself from Alice Miller, who has become emotionally fused with the victims about whom she writes. Another strength of Shengolds writing is that he eschews oversimplifications. While validating and appropriately empathizing with victims of childhood abuse, at the other end of the spectrum, in a complex and nuanced chapter titled "Narcissistic Pathology," he describes a group of patients who claim to be victims of abuse, and who present with clinical symptoms resembling those of "soul murder." Yet Shengold concludes of these patients that "In spite of their strong need to accuse their parents of something grievous...the analytic explorations turned up very little that was unusual in the way of parental evil or criminality" (245). The precipitating factor in these all these cases were parents who shared a "weakness of character and relative inability...to be forceful and firmly say No!" (246). These parents imbued narcissistic delusions in their children by instilling in them a belief that the world held "no tragedies or failures, only happy endings, and no death" (246). These children, upon realizing that "the inexorable conditions of life would not always permit the fulfillment of wishes" (251), displaced their rage at these broken promises onto charges--or perhaps one might say fantasies--of actual mistreatment by their parents. In a subsequent chapter, Shengold asserts: "The conviction that something traumatic has happened, right or wrong, should originate with the patient, not with the therapist" (268). Yet even in cases where patients "unmistakably" remember the abuse, there are always levels of doubt stemming from patients ambivalence about hating the parents on whom they still feel dependent. There are also, says Shengold, "false convictions" (268). This mode of interpretation is likely to be a controversial one in some circles; there are varieties of popular counseling and psychotherapeutic practice that affirm all claims of abuse as de facto evidence of abuse, and the presence of certain symptoms as further, incontrovertible evidence. It is precisely to this contemporary phenomenon that Shengold addresses the remark that "More observations about different kinds of pseudo-soul murder are needed in these times of controversy about charges of child abuse" (254).
Readers of this book will be helped by having familiarity with psychoanalytic theory, but those without this background will have no difficulty gaining valuable insights into the subject of child abuse in its various forms, the coping mechanisms of victims, and the complexities involved in diagnosis and treatment.
Naomi Gold is a Ph.D. Candidate at the Toronto School of Theology. Her dissertation discusses and critiques the way in which psychoanalytic object-relations theory has been used by theologically-committed analytic writers to validate theological belief systems. She has degrees in theology and religious studies, and has an active interest in the history and development of of "New Age" religion, religious cults, and the psychology of religious belief.
To discuss this book or the review you have just read, join the Metapsychology Discussion E-Mail Group by going to this URL: http://www.onelist.com/subscribe/metapsy-discussion
Welcome to MHN's unique book review site Metapsychology.
We feature over 7900 in-depth reviews of a wide range of books and DVDs written by our reviewers from many backgrounds and
We update our front page weekly and add more than thirty new reviews each month. Our editor is Christian Perring, PhD. To contact him, use one of the forms available here.
Can't remember our URL? Access our reviews directly via 'metapsychology.net'
Metapsychology Online reviewers normally receive gratis review copies of the items they review.
Metapsychology Online receives a commission from Amazon.com for purchases through this site, which helps us send
review copies to reviewers. Please support us by making your Amazon.com purchases through our Amazon links. We thank
you for your support!
Join our e-mail list!: Metapsychology New Review Announcements: Sent out monthly, these
announcements list our recent reviews. To subscribe, click
Interested in becoming a book reviewer for Metapsychology? Currently, we especially need thoughtful reviewers
for books in fiction, self-help and popular psychology. To apply, write to our editor.
Metapsychology Online Reviews
Promote your Page too
Metapsychology Online Reviews