Psychoanalysis in a New Light
Cambridge University Press
The Edunburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 8RU, UK
9780521122443 $34.99 www.cambridge.org www.amazon.com
Psychoanalysis in a New Light, by Gunnar Karllson, lives up to its title and portrays psychoanalysis differently than any analytic work in my experience. The book is a real gift to psychoanalysis, which has been accused of being stopped in its tracks. Indeed, I myself as a practitioner of 37 years, retired from a flourishing practice because I felt psychoanalysis had reached a dead end and I had nowhere else to go in it. I was wrong. My problem and that of psychoanalysis in general was that we were looking at the field from only one point of view. Dr. Karrlson's book shows us that psychoanalysis is like a many faceted diamond, which has been examined from a stationary position and merely needs to be turned to the light to bring up another vision.
Dr. Karllson is a philosopher, a phenomenologist. I am not, and in fact, know nothing about the field. Hence I was delighted to find that his philosophy brought me many insights about psychoanalysis. Phenomenology is concerned with the study of consciousness, whereas the field of investigation for psychoanalysis is the unconscious. According to Husserl, the founder of phenomenology, psychology has not been grounded in an adequate fashion. The task of phenomenology is to study the meaning or essence of a phenomenon, to identify and clarify the necessary conditions for it to be what it is. Karllson, following Husserl's line of thinking, believes that psychoanalysis has neglected the study of consciousness, and that it is necessary to understand it further as the gateway to the unconscious. Phenomenology provides that gateway. Karllson informs us that consciousness cannot be overlooked in either psychoanalytic investigations or the attempts to understand the essential nature of psychoanalysis. Freud also recognized the value of studying consciousness, even though his work did not reflect his interest. He wrote, "Now all our knowledge is invariably bound up with consciousness. We can come to know even the ucs only by making it conscious" (Freud, 1923, 190-191)
Karllson discusses subjectivity or the psychical as an objective fact of nature, which goes under the name of "naturalism." Naturalism eliminates the subjective, or looks for something objective to replace the subjective. Reality, first and foremost, or exclusively, is nature...