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On Freud's "Negation"

Editor : Mary Kay O'Neil, Editor : Salman Akhtar

On Freud's
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Synopsis:

Ever since Freud proposed that certain ideas can be permitted to become conscious only in their inverted and negative forms, interest has grown into the entire realm of the presence of absence, so to speak. Or, perhaps, it is better to term such mental contents as the presence in the form of absence. These two ways of conceptualizing Freud's negation have led to a panoply of ideas that include negative hallucination, psychic holes, negative narcissism, selfishly motivated erasure of the Other, and the so-called "work of the negative". This volume elucidates these concepts and refines the distinction between Freud's negation and subsequently described mental mechanisms of denial, repudiation, isolation, and undoing. The book also provides contemporary perspectives on the developmental underpinnings of negation and the technical usefulness of the concept, including its implicit role in negative therapeutic reactions. A thought-provoking and conceptually illuminating volume.

Reviews and Endorsements:

Contributors: Salman Akhtar, César Botella, Sára Botella, Jorge Canestri, Joachim F. Danckwardt, Antonino Ferro, André Green, Ilany Kogan, Bonnie E. Litowitz, Jorge Luis Maldonado, Mary Kay O'Neil, Brian M. Robertson

'This unique collection presents us with a variety of theoretical and clinical perspectives regarding Freud's 1925 paper on negation, articulated by well-known internationally based authors. Is negation just repression that didn't quite make it? How does negative therapeutic reaction relate to negation? What about negation and creativity? The writing - including that by the editors - affirms, and then builds on, Freud's original thinking, thereby providing for the reader a clear intellectual grasp of the concept, as well as lowering the countertransferential hurdles we often encounter with analysands who seem to persist in saying "No".'
- Sarah Usher, PhD, past President, Toronto Psychoanalytic Society

'Freud's paper "Negation" was published in 1925 amid the creative ferment produced by his introduction of a new paradigm for psychoanalysis, but because of its brevity and position among Freud's major writings, it has often been overlooked or underappreciated. Now, however, thanks to this volume of essays by a distinguished international group of leading contemporary psychoanalytic scholars, it should assume its rightful place, not only as a contribution to analytic technique, but as an important preliminary step in Freud's conceptualization of the creation and maintenance of reality sense and a foundational essay in the development of his theory of thinking.'
- Howard Levine, MD, training and supervising analyst, Psychoanalytic Institute of New England-East

Notes about the author(s):

Mary Kay O'Neil, a Supervising and Training Analyst of the Canadian Institute of Psychoanalysis, is in private practice in Montreal, Quebec. Currently, she is Associate Director of the Canadian Institute of Psychoanalysis (Quebec, English). She completed her PhD at the University of Toronto, where she was on the staff at the University of Toronto Psychiatric Service and Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry. She is author of The Unsung Psychoanalyst: The Quiet Influence of Ruth Easser and co-editor of Confidentiality: Ethical Perspectives and Clinical Dilemmas. Her research and publications include articles in areas such as depression and young adult development, emotional needs of sole-support mothers and their children, post-analytic contact between analyst and analysand, and psychoanalytic ethics. She has served on psychoanalytic ethics committees at local, national, and international levels; as a reviewer for JAPA, the Canadian Journal of Psychoanalysis; and, currently, on the North American Editorial Board of the International Journal of Psychoanalysis.

Salman Akhtar, MD, was born in India and completed his medical and psychiatric education there. Upon arriving in the USA in 1973, he repeated his psychiatric training at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, and then obtained psychoanalytic training from the Philadelphia Psychoanalytic Institute. Currently, he is Professor of Psychiatry at Jefferson Medical College and a training and supervising analyst at the Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia. He has authored, edited or co-edited more than 300 publications including books on psychiatry and psychoanalysis and several collections of poetry. He is also a Scholar-in-Residence at the Inter-Act Theatre Company in Philadelphia. Salman Akhtar received the Sigourney Award in 2012.

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