Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Book Reviews -- the Private Self by Arnold H. Modell

Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Book Reviews -- the Private Self by Arnold H. Modell

Article excerpt

ARNOLD H. MODELL: The Private Self: Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1993, 231 pp., $27.95.

The author states: "In The Private Self I shall claim that in order to understand the nature of the self, we must recognize its fundamentally paradoxical nature. The self endures through time as a sense of identity, yet consciousness of self is always changing." There is a great deal of material here and the "self" is examined from many different perspectives, primarily psychoanalytical. The eight sections include "Private and public selves," "The didactic of selves and others," and "Value, instinct, and the emergent motives of self," to name three sections that I found most rewarding. This is an important book in the psychoanalytic field.

The writing is dense, however. It is not a book to be read at one sitting, in spite of its short length. There are 494 references and notes in 207 pages of text, and the resultant almost continuous review and contrast make it difficult to maintain concentration.

One essential reference is incomplete. The author refers to Silvan Tomkins's 1962 book, Affect, Imagery, Consciousness Volume 1, but fails to review Volume 2 (1963), Volume 3 (1991), and Volume 4 (1992). They represent a cohesive whole. Also, Tomkins did more than "differentiated drives from affects." He demonstrated the presence of innate affects and may have revolutionized the fields of clinical and experimental psychology. …

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