email page print pageAll Topic Reviews
A Basic Theory of NeuropsychoanalysisA Cursing Brain?A Dream of Undying FameA Map of the MindAfter LacanAgainst AdaptationAgainst FreudAn Anatomy of AddictionAnalytic FreudAndré Green at the Squiggle FoundationAnger, Madness, and the DaimonicAnna FreudAnna Freud: A BiographyApproaching PsychoanalysisAttachment and PsychoanalysisBadiouBecoming a SubjectBefore ForgivingBerlin PsychoanalyticBetween Emotion and CognitionBeyond GenderBeyond SexualityBeyond the Pleasure PrincipleBiology of FreedomBoundaries and Boundary Violations in PsychoanalysisBuilding on BionCare of the PsycheCarl JungCassandra's DaughterCherishmentConfusion of TonguesContemporary Psychoanalysis and the Legacy of the Third ReichCrucial Choices, Crucial ChangesCulture and Conflict in Child and Adolescent Mental HealthDarwin's WormsDesert Islands and Other Texts (1953-1974)Dispatches from the Freud WarsDoes the Woman Exist?Doing Psychoanalysis in TehranDreaming and Other Involuntary MentationDreaming by the BookEnergy Psychology InteractiveEqualsErrant SelvesEthics and the Discovery of the UnconsciousEthics Case Book of the American Psychoanalytic AssociationFairbairn's Object Relations Theory in the Clinical SettingFed with Tears -- Poisoned with MilkFeminism and Its DiscontentsForms of Intersubjectivity in Infant Reasearch and Adult TreatmentFour Lessons of PsychoanalysisFratricide in the Holy LandFreudFreudFreudFreudFreudFreudFreud and the Question of PseudoscienceFreud As PhilosopherFreud at 150Freud's AnswerFreud's WizardFreud, the Reluctant PhilosopherFrom Classical to Contemporary PsychoanalysisFundamentals of Psychoanalytic TechniqueGenes on the CouchGoing SaneHans BellmerHappiness, Death, and the Remainder of LifeHate and Love in Psychoanalytical InstitutionsHatred and ForgivenessHealing the Soul in the Age of the BrainHeinz KohutHeinz KohutHidden MindsHistory of ShitHope and Dread in PsychoanalysisImagination and Its PathologiesImagine There's No WomanIn Freud's TracksIn SessionIn the Floyd ArchivesIntimaciesIntimate RevoltIrrationalityIs Oedipus Online?Jacques LacanJacques Lacan and the Freudian Practice of PsychoanalysisJung and the Making of Modern PsychologyJung Stripped BareKilling FreudLacanLacanLacanLacan and Contemporary FilmLacan at the SceneLacan For BeginnersLacan in AmericaLacan TodayLacan's Seminar on AnxietyLawLearning from Our MistakesLove's ExecutionerMad Men and MedusasMale Female EmailMelanie KleinMemoirs of My Nervous IllnessMental SlaveryMind to MindMixing MindsMoral StealthMourning and ModernityMovies and the MindMurder in ByzantiumNew Studies of Old VillainsNocturnesNoir AnxietyOn Being Normal and Other DisordersOn BeliefOn IncestOn Not Being Able to SleepOn the Freud WatchOn the Way HomeOpen MindedOpera's Second DeathOvercoming Destructive Beliefs, Feelings, and BehaviorsPhenomology & Lacan on Schizophrenia, After the Decade of the BrainPhilosophical Counselling and the UnconsciousPractical Psychoanalysis for Therapists and PatientsPsychiatry, Psychoanalysis, And The New Biology Of MindPsychoanalysisPsychoanalysisPsychoanalysis and Narrative MedicinePsychoanalysis and NeurosciencePsychoanalysis and the Philosophy of SciencePsychoanalysis as Biological SciencePsychoanalysis at the MarginsPsychoanalysis at the MarginsPsychoanalysis in a New LightPsychoanalysis in FocusPsychology, Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis, and the Politics of Human RelationshipsPsychotherapy As PraxisPutnam CampQuestions for FreudRe-Inventing the SymptomReading Seminar XXReinventing the SoulRelational Theory and the Practice of PsychotherapyRelationalityRepressed SpacesRevolt, She SaidSecrets of the SoulSerious ShoppingSex on the CouchSexuationSigmund FreudSoul Murder RevisitedSpectral EvidenceSpirit, Mind, and BrainStrangers to OurselvesSubjective Experience and the Logic of the OtherSubjectivity and OthernessSubstance Abuse As SymptomSurrealist Painters and PoetsTaboo SubjectsTalk is Not EnoughThe Arabic FreudThe Art of the SubjectThe Brain and the Inner WorldThe Brain, the Mind and the SelfThe Cambridge Companion to LacanThe Challenge for Psychoanalysis and PsychotherapyThe Clinical LacanThe Colonization Of Psychic SpaceThe Condition of MadnessThe Couch and the TreeThe Cruelty of DepressionThe Dissociative Mind in PsychoanalysisThe Dreams of InterpretationThe Examined LifeThe Fall Of An IconThe Freud EncyclopediaThe Freud FilesThe Freud WarsThe Fright of Real TearsThe Future of PsychoanalysisThe Gift of TherapyThe Heart & Soul of ChangeThe Knotted SubjectThe Last Good FreudianThe Late Sigmund FreudThe Letters of Sigmund Freud and Otto RankThe Mind According to ShakespeareThe Mystery of PersonalityThe Mythological UnconsciousThe Neuropsychology of the UnconsciousThe New PsychoanalysisThe Power of FeelingsThe Psychoanalytic MovementThe Psychoanalytic MysticThe Psychoanalytic Study of the ChildThe Psychoanalytic Study of the ChildThe Psychodynamics of Gender and Gender RoleThe Puppet and the DwarfThe Real World Guide to Psychotherapy PracticeThe Revolt of the PrimitiveThe Seminar of Moustafa SafouanThe Sense and Non-Sense of RevoltThe Shortest ShadowThe Social History of the UnconsciousThe Surface EffectThe Symmetry of GodThe Tragedy of the SelfThe Trainings of the PsychoanalystThe UnsayableThe World of PerversionTherapeutic ActionTherapy's DelusionsThis Incredible Need to BelieveThoughts Without A ThinkerTo Redeem One Person Is to Redeem the WorldTrauma and Human ExistenceTraumatizing TheoryUmbr(a)Unconscious knowing and other essays in psycho-philosophical analysisUnderstanding Dissidence and Controversy in the History of PsychoanalysisUnderstanding PsychoanalysisUnfree AssociationsWalking HeadsWay Beyond FreudWhat Does a Woman Want?What Freud Really MeantWhen the Body SpeaksWhere Do We Fall When We Fall in Love?Whose Freud?Why Psychoanalysis?Wilhelm ReichWinnicottWinnicott On the ChildWisdom Won from IllnessWittgenstein on Freud and FrazerWittgenstein Reads FreudWorld, Affectivity, TraumaZizek
In this book, Stephen Mitchell, the leading theorist of the relational
movement in psychoanalysis, explores connections between earlier
psychoanalytic perspectives (especially Loewald, Winnicott, Fairbairn,
and Bowlby, but also Sullivan and Fromm) and relational thinking
and introduces some of his own ideas about levels of mental functioning.
Mitchell uses clinical material to good effect: not only does
this illuminate the ideas under discussion, but it enables us
to witness a clinician at work who is deeply honest and fully
engaged in the therapeutic enterprise. Indeed, Mitchell's clinical
work stands out for its boldness and originality. Although some
of the book covers old ground in its criticism of the classical
model of psychoanalysis, Mitchell does branch out here in a new
direction by emphasizing connections between relational psychoanalysis
and recent versions of attachment theory (like Fonagy's work).
Mitchell's reading of figures like Loewald, Winnicott and Fairbairn
highlights the distinctiveness of their respective contributions.
The first two chapters are devoted to an assessment of Loewald
in which Mitchell demonstrates how Loewald uses traditional psychoanalytic
terms in novel ways-for example, in construing the unconscious
in terms of dedifferentiation, rather than in terms of explosive
energy or propulsive drives (p. 11), and in redefining the boundary
between fantasy and reality in a less rigid manner (p. 18). Mitchell
offers an interesting discussion of Loewald's notion of the "primal
density" of the mind, which is manifest in the infant's sense
of unity with the mother. In this context, Mitchell observes the
similarity to Mahler's commitment to a phase of symbiosis, but
Mitchell does not grapple with the extent to which such ideas
have come under attack by infant researchers (Gergely has reviewed
this literature in relation to psychoanalysis; for a current version,
see Fonagy, Gergely, Jurist, Target's Affect Regulation and Mentalization,
forthcoming in 2001 from the Other Press).
Mitchell's appreciative examination of Loewald emphasizes his
wish to affirm adult reality without minimizing the value of infantile
fantasy. The former without the latter would mean "a dessicated,
meaningless, passionless world," (p.24). According to Mitchell's
interpretation of Loewald, "only the enchanted life is worth
living" (p. 29).
In the third chapter, Mitchell moves on to present his own ideas.
Developing Loewald's notion of how different levels of functioning
coexist in the mind, Mitchell offers four different modes of organization.
It will be possible to do justice to this theoretical framework
here. Let me briefly characterize the range of distinct kinds
of human interaction which Mitchell specifies: 1) non-reflective
exchanges, which are revealed in actual behavior; 2) interactions
which are predicated upon affect permeability (or what is sometimes
referred to as "emotional contagion"); 3) interactions
which determine self-other configurations (including how others
can be part of oneself and how the self is multiplicitous); and
4) intersubjective interactions, which are mediated by the capacity
for self-reflexivity that allows us to have a richer sense of
both the self and others (pp. 58f). This framework is helpful
in establishing Mitchell's claim that secondary process does not
replace primary process and that we need to accept and promote
interaction between these two general realms.
Clinical illustrations are used throughout the book to capture
aspects of this theoretical framework. For anyone who would like
to get a real sense of how psychoanalysts are working these days--
and thus to escape the antiquated, tired images that popular culture
tends to favor-- I would highly recommend Mitchell's book. He
is candid about his own moments of confusion and frustration.
Mitchell has a subtle eye, noticing the value of opting not to
make an explicit interpretation in favor of allowing an emotional
moment to linger in the room. He also does not hesitate to examine
challenging topics such as excitement and erotic arousal between
patients and analysts.
Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of Mitchell's clinical work
has to do with his use of himself. With a patient who was chronically
hostile both within and outside of therapy, but also attuned to
how this drives others away from her, Mitchell responds to her
assertion that it was likely that at that moment he was hating
her by saying: "If this were not an analytic relationship,
if this were out on the street and you were talking to me this
way and I weren't your analyst, I probably would say 'FUCK YOU!'
But I am your analyst" (p. 142). This served to defuse
the hostility in the room and facilitated a new level of connection
in the treatment. The example represents a fine case of how acknowledging
countertransference, even negative countertransference (within
the bounds of what will be beneficial to the patient) can be helpful.
This book breaks new ground for the relational model in the way
it warms to attachment theory in the fourth chapter. Mitchell
offers a good discussion of how psychoanalysts failed to appreciate
Bowlby's work and also of how attachment theory has evolved in
a direction that is less behavioral and thus more readily compatible
with psychoanalytic ideas. Fonagy and Target's notion of "playing
with reality" and the process of mentalization through which
a child becomes interested in his/her own mind, fits well with
Loewald's redefinition of the boundary between fantasy and reality.
The warming to attachment theory is significant as well because
the relational movement has tended to identify itself with the
hermeneutic side of psychoanalysis and to bequeath the scientific
side to post-Freudians. One of the merits of attachment theory
is its solid basis in empirical research. Mitchell's openness
to science is also apparent in his passing comments on Edelman's
I would like to conclude this review by noting that Stephen Mitchell
died in December 2000 shortly after its publication. This is a
huge loss to the relational perspective, but also to the entire
field of psychoanalysis-all the more so since Mitchell was only
54 years old. On a personal note, I encountered Mitchell in a
number of times professionally (and once in a consultation). One
did not have to know him well to sense what a decent, humane and
astute man he was.
© Elliot Jurist, 2001
Ph.D. is a Professor of Philosophy at Hofstra University and is a Lecturer in the Department of Psychiatry
at Columbia University.
He is the author of Beyond Hegel and Nietzsche: Philosophy, Culture, and Agency (MIT