J. (.aplanche and J.-B. Poníaíis THE LANGUAGE OF PSYCHOANALYSIS Translated by Donald Nicholson Smith. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1974, 510 pp., $14.95.
As an accompaniment of his discoveries in human psychology, thought, feeling, and behavior, Freud developed a language of psychoanalysis as a tool for explaining his concepts. He derived this language largely from common German usage of his day, but he also drew upon the vocabulary and terminology of neurophysiology, psychology, psychiatry, and, to some extent, classic Greek and Latin sources. From whatever sources he derived his terminology, he gave the words the unique meanings that have become the conceptual tools of psychoanalysis. Freud himself was not always precise or clear in the words he chose. The multiplicity of meanings and ambiguities have at times tended to becloud some of his basic conceptualizations. Attribution by some of his followers of meanings that differ from Freud's have added to the semantic confusion and ambiguity.
The authors of this laborious and scholarly volume have attempted to fill a need to restudy and clarify the fundamental conceptions of psychoanalysis not Only as a series of mere definitions but also as an account of the evolution of each concept, with supporting texts from Freud's writing. The authors' purpose was to deal not with all the phenomena psychoanalysis seeks to explain but only with the conceptual tools used to explain them. To accomplish their task, they devoted eight years of research to the writings of Freud in which the core terminology of psychoanalysis is to be found. However, they have also considered the fundamental contributions of other psychoanalysts.
In their comprehensive treatment of the subject, the authors have alphabetically arranged 200 to 300 psychoanalytic concepts. Each entry consists of a definition and a commentary. The definition seeks to summarize the accepted meaning of the concept as it is currently used in psychoanalysis. In the commentary, the authors trace the history and evolution of each concept. While stressing the genesis of each concept in thé work of Freud, they include important elaborations by other investigators. Through the extensive use of cross-references, they place the concepts within the total structure of psychoanalytic thought. They also point up the ambiguities and contradictions of some of the concepts and thus identify problem areas. Following each entry is a listing of the references on which the definition and commentary are based.
The authors' scholarly approach, leavened by their obviously rich clinical experience and insights, has produced a reference book that will be useful to those interested in psychoanalysis whether they be students, practitioners, or researchers. The authors have rendered a valuable service by offering not a dictionary of finally established knowledge but a unique and careful consideration of the current status of the conceptual tools of psychoanalysis, their evaluation, and their relationship to each other. Also, by indicating problem areas, they implicitly offer suggestions for further investigation.