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Plea for a Measure of Abnormality


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It is a rare event for a psychoanalyst to plead for a measure of abnormality as a sign of psychic health; but it is perhaps even more rare to encounter a psychoanalyst who is willing to put into question, over and over and beyond her analytic skills, her identity as an analyst. Yet it is those patients who confront the analyst with their power to render the work difficult or indeed sterile, who particularly interest Joyce McDougall. Unlike the "good classical neurotic", these patients are all too rapidly dubbed character neurotics, perverts, psychosomatics, or narcissistic personalities. If the analyst can allow herself to feel and reveal their suffering, then the psychoanalytic experience can touch the limits of what is analysable, representable, and narratable. It is on this terrain, where one must continually invent new ways of making contact and communicating, that the author with her exceptional freedom of thought and style conducts the reader. J. B. Pontalis.

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