email page    print page

All 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

Related Topics
RelationalityReview - Relationality
From Attachment to Intersubjectivity
by Stephen A. Mitchell
Analytic Press, 2000
Review by Elliot L. Jurist, Ph.D.
Jun 16th 2001 (Volume 5, Issue 24)

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 neuroscientific work.

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

Elliot Jurist, 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 Press, 2000).


Welcome to Metapsychology. We feature over 8200 in-depth reviews of a wide range of books and DVDs written by our reviewers from many backgrounds and perspectives. We update our front page weekly and add more than twenty new reviews each month. Our editor is Christian Perring, PhD. To contact him, use one of the forms available here.

Metapsychology Online reviewers normally receive gratis review copies of the items they review.
Metapsychology Online receives a commission from for purchases through this site, which helps us send review copies to reviewers. Please support us by making your 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 here.

Interested in becoming a book reviewer for Metapsychology? To apply, write to our editor.

Metapsychology Online Reviews

Promote your Page too

Metapsychology Online Reviews
ISSN 1931-5716