Book Reviews -- Psychoanalysis in Transition: A Personal View by Merton M. Gill

By Giovacchini, Peter L. | American Journal of Psychotherapy, Summer 1995 | Go to article overview

Book Reviews -- Psychoanalysis in Transition: A Personal View by Merton M. Gill


Giovacchini, Peter L., American Journal of Psychotherapy


MERTON M. GILL: Psychoanalysis in Transition: A Personal View. Analytic Press, Hillsdale, NJ, 1994, 196 pp., $29.95.

Psychoanalysis in Transition, in spite of Gill's great erudition, is written without pedantic pretension. He is refreshingly frank. He recounts that in the 1940s he reviewed Grinker and Spiegel's Men under Stress for a journal club at the Menninger Clinic. Gill recalls Menninger's rather characteristic acerbic remark after the presentation: "Merton, I have never known anyone else with your capacity to make something intrinsically so lively and exciting so dull and boring" (p. x). Gill goes on to say that he has been struggling against that propensity ever since.

He has made some progress, yet a certain tedium adheres to his expositions. The paucity of clinical material contributes to that impression. Gill uses many personal communications, but not one patient of his own is discussed in depth.

He covers a broad spectrum, beginning with the polarities of constructivism and hermeneutics, a theme that runs throughout the whole book. Like Freud, Gill orders his thinking around dualities such as internal and external, one-person and two-person psychologies, psychoanalysis and psychotherapy, and theory and technique. These are also some of his chapter headings.

Constructivism is defined as "the proposition that all human perception and thinking is a construction rather than a reflection of external reality as such" (p. 1), an antithesis of the correspondence theory of truth. Hermeneutics is defined as the process underlying the interpretation of meaning.

Basically, Gill stresses that the psychoanalytic process involves the interaction of the psychic reality of two people. …

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