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Soul Murder Revisited


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In this mixture of clinical and literary studies, psychoanalyst Shengold (Soul Murder, Fawcett, 1991) returns to the subject of destructive parenting. He is less concerned with whether abuse actually happens than with its impact when it is only, or mainly, imagined and how to treat patients in either category. Chapters on Swinburne, Proust, and Elizabeth Bishop and discussion of Oedipus, Kipling, ring symbolism, and narcissism will interest readers who enjoy applications of psychoanalysis to literature. Clinicians will find useful ideas for victims of actual or virtual abuse. But Shengold will not win many converts to his pessimistic Freudian stance‘he asserts the centrality of murder as a motivational force and speaks of "the inexorability of our own and our parents' burdens of evil." He alienates the unconverted further with the assertion that those who reject Freud are not strong enough to face the painful truth. Some good ideas mired in presumption posing as science, suitable for a sophisticated psychoanalytic audience.‘E. James Lieberman, George Washington Univ. Sch. of Medicine, Washington, DC

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