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Book Review: Importance of Disappointment

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  • Sue McPherson
    Perhaps this might be of interest to the list members. - Sue McPherson Book Review The Importance of Disappointment, by Ian Craib. Routledge, 1994. London
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 3, 2003
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      Perhaps this might be of interest to the list members. - Sue McPherson

      Book Review

      The Importance of Disappointment, by Ian Craib. Routledge, 1994. London and
      New York. 216 pages, 8.75 x 5.5 in. Paperback, ISBN 041509383X. Reviewed by
      Sue McPherson.

      In this book, Ian Craib examines the nature of identity in late modern
      society, using psychoanalytic and sociological perspectives. Acknowledging
      his own experience of dealing with a terminal illness, he explores such
      issues as the fear of death, the grieving process, and the disappointments
      of male identity. Drawing on his in-depth knowledge of psychoanalytic
      theory, Craib discusses ways of thinking about the self, as separate
      individuals and in relation to others. While fragmentation, anxiety,
      conflict and disappointment are virtually unavoidable in today's world,
      there is a bright side, Craib claims: the ideas and values of psychoanalysis
      hold the possibility, though in a limited way, of a "liberating, enriching
      and growth-inspiring process" (p. 57).

      Admitting that the current climate for students of Freud is "dangerously
      conservative" (p. 34), he takes up a position that accepts internal conflict
      within the individual while not delving too deeply into such aspects as the
      relationship that men and women have with their own bodies. The book
      emphasises masculine identity, referring to the work of David Jackson and
      Robert Bly on masculinity and the men's movement, but dismissing any serious
      consideration of patriarchy as an ideology or organising system within
      society. Nevertheless, despite lacking a feminist analysis, many of his
      insights can be applied equally to the lives of either sex.

      Drawing from the work of Melanie Klein, he expands on her notion of
      disappointment, suggesting that the idea of integration is a paradox:
      "integration is the acceptance of a process of being unintegrated, of
      depression, internal conflict and a normal failure to contain these within
      the boundaries of the personality" (p. 176). For those who see psychotherapy
      as offering solutions, happiness and satisfaction, Craib explains, the idea
      of integration may not be attractive. It means putting up with conflict and
      the bad aspects of relationships and of the self.

      Despite Craib's criticisms of psychoanalysis - its structure and some of its
      ideas, he sees it as being of much value, "a self-governing profession which
      accepts its own limitations, and which does not try to pathologise whole
      areas of life, or insist on what it has to offer being essential if life's
      difficulties are going to be negotiated" (p. 183). The emphasis of
      psychoanalysis is on the individual, and the experience of the individual is
      penetrated by the system, including psychotherapy itself - a drawback, Craib
      argues, but not sufficient reason to reject it. While the ideal of achieving
      a unified, integrated identity or stable solutions to life dilemmas is
      unrealistic, he sees the insights of psychotherapy as being invaluable to
      those who choose this path.

      This book also includes a chapter specifically on the organisation of social
      life, although the emphasis in general is on psychoanalysis with
      sociological insights, case studies, and anecdotes from the author's own
      life. This text refers to the paperback edition.

      About the author. Ian Craib, psychotherapist, and sociologist at the
      University of Essex, UK, died December 22, 2002, aged 57.
    • eduard
      Sue, I agree that the problem is a matter of a matter of identity and integration into society. Men and women are basically left on their own in their
      Message 2 of 2 , Mar 3, 2003
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        Sue,

        I agree that the problem is a matter of a matter
        of identity and integration into society. Men and
        women are basically left on their own in their
        maturing years. In older societies, there was a
        process by which the young could adapt themselves
        to earning their own living. Children, who were
        then seen as small adults, were exposed to the
        outside world at a very early age. And there was
        a general idea of how they might enter society.
        Today, we feed our children cartoons and for the
        most part try to shelter them from society as long
        as possible. No wonder they form gangs of their
        peers and tend towards destruction. "Dont trust
        anyone over 30" was the prevailing phrase.

        But on the whole this has something to do with the
        way that governments and corporations treat the
        young. In Canada ... and i suspect elsewhere ...
        the government seen fit to delay its hiring of new
        people, and now there is a crisis of transition to
        the new generation. In trying to save money, the
        Canadian federal government has not hired junior
        people that can take over when the older
        generation retires. Instead of spending a billion
        dollars on gun registration, we could have opened
        up new positions that would serve as an entry
        point. Countries which have not invested in the
        young are going to be in a big problem shortly ...
        if they are not already ...

        eduard

        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "Sue McPherson"
        <sue@...>
        To: <existlist@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Monday, March 03, 2003 10:32 AM
        Subject: [existlist] Book Review: Importance of
        Disappointment


        > Perhaps this might be of interest to the list
        members. - Sue McPherson
        >
        > Book Review
        >
        > The Importance of Disappointment, by Ian Craib.
        Routledge, 1994. London and
        > New York. 216 pages, 8.75 x 5.5 in. Paperback,
        ISBN 041509383X. Reviewed by
        > Sue McPherson.
        >
        > In this book, Ian Craib examines the nature of
        identity in late modern
        > society, using psychoanalytic and sociological
        perspectives. Acknowledging
        > his own experience of dealing with a terminal
        illness, he explores such
        > issues as the fear of death, the grieving
        process, and the disappointments
        > of male identity. Drawing on his in-depth
        knowledge of psychoanalytic
        > theory, Craib discusses ways of thinking about
        the self, as separate
        > individuals and in relation to others. While
        fragmentation, anxiety,
        > conflict and disappointment are virtually
        unavoidable in today's world,
        > there is a bright side, Craib claims: the ideas
        and values of psychoanalysis
        > hold the possibility, though in a limited way,
        of a "liberating, enriching
        > and growth-inspiring process" (p. 57).
        >
        > Admitting that the current climate for students
        of Freud is "dangerously
        > conservative" (p. 34), he takes up a position
        that accepts internal conflict
        > within the individual while not delving too
        deeply into such aspects as the
        > relationship that men and women have with their
        own bodies. The book
        > emphasises masculine identity, referring to the
        work of David Jackson and
        > Robert Bly on masculinity and the men's
        movement, but dismissing any serious
        > consideration of patriarchy as an ideology or
        organising system within
        > society. Nevertheless, despite lacking a
        feminist analysis, many of his
        > insights can be applied equally to the lives of
        either sex.
        >
        > Drawing from the work of Melanie Klein, he
        expands on her notion of
        > disappointment, suggesting that the idea of
        integration is a paradox:
        > "integration is the acceptance of a process of
        being unintegrated, of
        > depression, internal conflict and a normal
        failure to contain these within
        > the boundaries of the personality" (p. 176). For
        those who see psychotherapy
        > as offering solutions, happiness and
        satisfaction, Craib explains, the idea
        > of integration may not be attractive. It means
        putting up with conflict and
        > the bad aspects of relationships and of the
        self.
        >
        > Despite Craib's criticisms of psychoanalysis -
        its structure and some of its
        > ideas, he sees it as being of much value, "a
        self-governing profession which
        > accepts its own limitations, and which does not
        try to pathologise whole
        > areas of life, or insist on what it has to offer
        being essential if life's
        > difficulties are going to be negotiated" (p.
        183). The emphasis of
        > psychoanalysis is on the individual, and the
        experience of the individual is
        > penetrated by the system, including
        psychotherapy itself - a drawback, Craib
        > argues, but not sufficient reason to reject it.
        While the ideal of achieving
        > a unified, integrated identity or stable
        solutions to life dilemmas is
        > unrealistic, he sees the insights of
        psychotherapy as being invaluable to
        > those who choose this path.
        >
        > This book also includes a chapter specifically
        on the organisation of social
        > life, although the emphasis in general is on
        psychoanalysis with
        > sociological insights, case studies, and
        anecdotes from the author's own
        > life. This text refers to the paperback edition.
        >
        > About the author. Ian Craib, psychotherapist,
        and sociologist at the
        > University of Essex, UK, died December 22, 2002,
        aged 57.
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
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