Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Book Reviews -- the Relevance of the Family to Psychoanalytic Theory by Theodore Lidz

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Book Reviews -- the Relevance of the Family to Psychoanalytic Theory by Theodore Lidz

Article excerpt

The Relevance of the Family to Psychoanalytic Theory. Theodore Lidz. Madison, CT: International Universities Press. 1992. 266 pp. ISBN 0-8236-5784-1. $30 cloth.

This book's title, The Relevance of the Family to Psychoanalytic Theory, may seem odd to many readers of this journal. Regardless of one's view on the value of psychoanalysis, most of us assume it is concerned with the individual's experience as a family member. Not so, or not nearly enough so, says Theodore Lidz, M.D., who for many years has been a Professor of Psychiatry at Yale University, and who is perhaps best known for his family dynamics explanation of schizophrenia. Lidz argues in the present book that psychoanalytic theory, not necessarily psychoanalytic practice, in spite of recognizing the existence of environmental events and the psychic significance of mothers and fathers, has no analysis of familial influence through time.

Lidz makes the by-now familiar accusations that psychoanalytic theory remains much too oriented to internal events, and that it describes these in outmoded biological terms such as libidinal fixations on body parts. He is also well aware that Freud contradicts himself, does not provide clear definitions, and is guilty of much overgeneralization. But beyond this, and perhaps of greatest importance to Lidz is Freudian theory's failure to analyze what really goes on in actual families through time. Lidz suggests that Freud moved away from an analysis of real family happenings quite early when he largely gave up his theory that hysteria was caused by actual seductions in early childhood, and concluded that memories of such seductions were fantasies. By contrast Lidz believes that real seductions, really remembered, can indeed cause symptoms, though he sees the underlying problem as a relational rather than a strictly sexual one.

In spite of his many and deep disagreements with Freud, Lidz is not at all in favor of abandoning psychoanalytic theory; rather he feels that psychoanalytic theory must be fundamentally overhauled to even begin to qualify as an integrated account of human behavior or even of personality. …

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