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Shame and Jealousy: The Hidden Turmoils (The Psychoanalytic Ideas Series)
Shame and Jealousy: The Hidden Turmoils (The Psychoanalytic Ideas Series)
Price: £8.03

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Splendid, 19 Aug. 2014
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Bad first: sadly, the Kindle edition is really messy, containing numerous typos. That's the only reason I'm knocking a star off my review - don't let this put you off, as the text is a five-star effort.

A marvelously illuminating exposition of shame and its siblings, jealousy and rage. I was particularly impressed with the deft integration of classical psychoanalytic theory and modern evolutionary psychology, a conceptual pairing that lends the ideas even greater explanatory power.

Even if you don't have a formal interest in psychoanalysis, this is engaging stuff, and the source of a great deal of potential personal insight. It's occasionally painful to read, testament to the power of its subject matter. Mollon's sensitivity and craft keep you on the page however, even when the going's tough. Well done!


Biyang RV-10 Stereo "Tri Reverb" Guitar Effects Pedal
Biyang RV-10 Stereo "Tri Reverb" Guitar Effects Pedal
Offered by Spartan-Music
Price: £39.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome, 9 Mar. 2014
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Due to this brand's pedigree - that is to say it's a Chinese designed and built product, there might be a whiff of prejudice that it's somehow good 'in-spite' of these facts. A fair assumption when historically, most of the high end analogue guitar effect pedals have not come from this part of the world.

Not so! The Tri Reverb has the build quality and features (true bypass standing out in particular) of any of its European or American boutique counterparts, and from what I gather the Biyang / Joyo brand is producing lots of other pedals that stand proudly alongside the competition.

It also stands on its own four feet in terms of its tonal quality and personality. As mentioned elsewhere, there are two distinct types of reverb circuit labelled 'A' and 'B' which in turn can be assigned any one of the 3 reverb types, giving 6 total base sounds, before you've dialed anything on the knobs. A lot of people seem to prefer the 'B' circuit, which is a more vanilla, safe option. Its warm and glassy and very much a turn-on-and-forget setting, making it eminently useful.

The 'A' circuit is more exciting but a bit more idiosyncratic - perhaps recalling the ethereal, saturated and sometimes overpowering (in a good way if used right) reverb element of, say Jeff Buckley's sound. When they settings go past halfway on the hall setting it starts to almost feedback and distort - which doesn't sound like a good thing on paper but it is. To my mind, this is where this little pedal actually hides its magic.

And then, of course, is the fact that it's a fraction the price of its counterparts. Sometimes an up-and-coming brand with everything to prove make their competition look complacent and overpriced, and I think this is one of those times. Take a very small risk and try this pedal out - I doubt you'll be disappointed.


Lacan: A Beginner's Guide (Beginner's Guides)
Lacan: A Beginner's Guide (Beginner's Guides)
Price: £6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes!, 11 Sept. 2013
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A superbly written book, covering a huge amount of theoretical material in an astonishingly small amount of space. This is no mean feat considering the complexity of some of Lacan's formulations and shows real mastery of the subject on the part of the author.

I've spent about the last year trying to get to grips with Lacan and am pleased to say that I feel I'm beginning to get somewhere, thanks also to Bruce Fink's superb 'A clinical introduction to Lacanian Psychoanalysis' which makes a brilliant companion piece. It's a good job that there are some first rate writers committed to introducing Lacan to a non-French audience because the ideas are too beautiful to go to waste. Oh, and the book is under a fiver, too. Fantastic.


The Clinical Thinking of Wilfred Bion (Makers of Modern Psychotherapy)
The Clinical Thinking of Wilfred Bion (Makers of Modern Psychotherapy)
Price: £25.64

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slightly flawed but still excellent, 11 Sept. 2013
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The first time I read this book I was struck by something that has taken a second read to confirm - everything about this book is excellent apart from the first couple of chapters, which are really flakey. The authors take the strange decision of throwing down the gauntlet in regards to Bion's standing as a thinker and psychoanalyst, claiming that he is the 'deepest' thinker in the firmament bar none - including of course everyone's favourite target, Freud. Freud as usual gets painted as reductive, blinkered and deterministic in his metapsychological model and Bion is the revolutionary white knight. Yes, Bion is the bestest, we are assured in often rather breathless purple prose and without hesitation or irony. Some of this is about the author's clear love for him and his thinking, which I admire and enjoy, and some of it is just plain silliness in the service of distinguishing and distancing him from his predecessors and contemporaries. Way too much of a meal is made of this - Bion wasn't the only thinker to synthesise something original from Freud and Klein's models - Winnicott for example was equally subversive in this way. So, that's the missing star from my review.

Right, now that's out the way, I'm happy to report that the rest of the book is extremely well put-together and useful, written at just the right level for someone seeking a challenging introduction. 'The grid' is used as the centre point from which all of Bion's major concepts are presented, and the authors do this with deftness, insight and an obvious passion for what Bion stood for intellectually and philosophically. They get inside his ideas and light them up which, for a psychotherapy student such as myself, is invaluable since his original texts are not easy to get to grips with.

I can unreservedly recommend this book. The misty-eyed silliness which crops up from time to time is ultimately easy to forgive when you consider how much research and effort has clearly gone into decoding Bion's slightly esoteric but nonetheless valuable contributions to the field.


The Little Psychotherapy Book: Object Relations in Practice
The Little Psychotherapy Book: Object Relations in Practice

3.0 out of 5 stars comme ci comme ca, 6 Sept. 2013
It's not always easy to know what to expect from a book marketed as being introductory level, so I'm writing a little review to clarify this for potential buyers. For someone just starting out on a psychodynamic therapy training, or with a keen layperson's interest, this could be a useful text. The absolute rudiments of a helping relationship are introduced and described at a level of detail that won't overwhelm or intimidate, with theoretical underpinning drawing on Klein, Winnicott and Freud amongst others. Common situations that occur in therapy are presented in the form of scenarios with an imaginary client, Susan.

There were a few aspects of this book which weren't so much to my liking, however. For starters, it's highly didactic, at times almost feeling like an instruction manual. These instructions are in turn based upon pretty prescriptive and often banal interpretations of theoretical approaches, unreflectively presented with little context and no critique. Whilst I appreciate the need to not 'teach us nothing by telling us everything' this sometimes falls the wrong side of the line. A bit of perspective or caution when presenting 'best-practice' would go a long way, as impressionable trainees might otherwise take this as gospel without an awareness of the dangers of a single orientation based approach. Further, the references to DSM disorders are, frankly, completely spurious. If the intended reader isn't ready for properly situated and thorough theoretical discussion, why should they be hearing about 'dysthymic disorder' or 'depressive disorder not specified'? And I won't even get into the use of this discourse even outside the context of this book, which is seriously questionable in the first place.

Ultimately this book is a nice little intro to a topic which, as is rightly stated, is often obscured by jargon. But this is psychotherapy-lite, and sometimes let down by a lack of context, critique and rigour in its presentation of the ideas.


Poststructuralism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
Poststructuralism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
Price: £5.03

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stylish, elegant, sometimes difficult, 29 Aug. 2013
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As a lover of the a.v.s.i. series of books I've come to realise that they don't have a huge amount in common in terms of their prose style. Sometimes you get crisply written, dull expositions, and other times self-indulgent, wince inducing material from someone a tad too in love with their subject to see through the fog. This effort from Catherine Belsey straddles the gap without ending up far towards either side to fall in. Whilst she introduces her material concisely and incisively, there are occasionally flourishes where her obvious passion really brings the material to life. She makes frequent use of relevant examples from literature and art to provide examples of poststructuralist modes of thought in action, so to speak. On the academic side of the coin, the intellectual heavyweights most closely associated with the structuralist and poststructuralist movements are introduced, described and rounded off with a short biography which provides some historical, sociological and psychological context to their work and life.

Occasionally the narrative goes a little off piste but it's forgivable considering the nature of the beast; the ideas are often not for the faint of heart and this will take some level of commitment on the part of the reader. Many of the big thinkers involved were showing how language contorts and is contorted by the human subject. Their work embraces the ambiguity of our systems of language and often revels in its own obscurity as if to make this point. If you're completely new to formal philosophical thinking then there could be a few areas of struggle ahead. However, Belsey manages to stop things drifting off into the stratosphere with a particularly wonderful exposition of Shakespeare's 'Sonnet 18' showing how this ambiguity can serve to delight as much as frustrate.

In my view this is a commendable attempt to compress and present a lot of often difficult and disparate ideas cogently, with insights compounded from fields such as sociology, anthropology, literary theory and psychoanalysis. The latter being my particular area of study, I found the material on Lacan particularly useful and well-written. All in all, a to-the-point introduction to an often obscure subject, expressed stylishly in an idiosyncratic and often creative manner. Well done!


Winnicott
Winnicott
Price: £4.68

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pofiect, 21 Aug. 2013
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This review is from: Winnicott (Kindle Edition)
Wow. Adam Phillips shows how it should be done with an extremely well researched, lucidly written and creatively presented account of the life and work of D. Winnicott. Phillips manages to extract and present what is useful and good from the body of work, deftly weaving his most significant contributions with rigorous critique within a cogently presented theoretical context. I've just finished reading it for the second time and I must say, I'm very grateful that this book has been written, as I now have a solid feel for Winnitott's developmental and psychoanalytic model. What's I found most valuable of all was the way Phillips portrays Winnicott's attitude and personality - it's hard to not get a sense for the man and, as daft as I must sound, DW comes across as a real Dude, especially considering all the Kleinian / Freudian silliness that was going on in British Psychoanalytic Society at the time he presided. A great book and an enjoyable read.


Freud A to Z
Freud A to Z

4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty decent but with the occasional faux pas, 21 Aug. 2013
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This review is from: Freud A to Z (Kindle Edition)
As a counselling / psychotherapy student I bought this on the recommendation of a professional therapist and clinical supervisor who works at my training placement venue. He seemed to know what's what and said this was a gem of a book on Freud. Yes and no. It covers some of the salient parts of Freud's thought and I experienced the odd pang of gratitude when something I'd struggled to grasp was laid out nice and simply. This book gets a lot right and is a very enjoyable read, written in a breezy informal prose which welcomes newcomers to the table with a warm smile. But there's the odd wince, I'm sad to say, when the author makes her own opinions and conjecture too felt. Concerning some of the most contentious issues of Freud's work, such as dreams, drives and the unconscious she at times reveals, for me, that slightly pernicious and nauseating need to demonstrate how, as the "father of modern neuroscience", Freud's ideas were essentially right all along, and have been largely confirmed by modern scientific study. She references very selectively at times and doesn't go near the stuff that goes too much against his central propositions (not without exception I hasten to add, but enough to be slightly discrediting). The irony being of course that Freud was all for the reconstruction of his own contentions at the point where they ceased to have the greatest explanatory power. I'm sure Sharon Heller knows this too, I just don't think she says it explicitly enough and that is the pinch of salt missing from this book and the star missing from my review of it.


A Clinical Introduction to Lacanian Psychoanalysis: Theory and Technique
A Clinical Introduction to Lacanian Psychoanalysis: Theory and Technique
Price: £23.70

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Making some measure of sense of the nightmare that is Lacan, 21 Aug. 2013
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As a student half way though a post-grad level psychotherapy / counselling training, the work of Lacan forms part of my sylabus. If you're unfamiliar with Lacan's work then you may wish to consider that it's mystifying stuff at first - this is not 'explain it like I'm five years old' territory and if you want to get a even a rudimentary feel for much of his work and thought, you need to be prepared for some heavy lifting. Opinion is quite divided on his work and usefulness, and he seems rather take-it-or-leave-it in my experience of psychotherapy professionals. Lacan's a funny one, utterly fascinating, seductive and a bit of a showman, whilst often being obscure to the point of absurdity, in my opinion. My theory is that he hated the vulgarisation of Freud's work, which he loved above all else ('It is up to you to be Lacanians if you wish. I am a Freudian'). His work seems to resist this degradation and misunderstanding by virtue, if that's the word, of its inaccessibility. It's is taken very seriously on the continent and in South America in many areas areas of discourse beyond psychoanalysis so you really ought to make some inroads, tough as this may seem at first.

And yes, it may be tough, but fear not intrepid student. For, as much as is possible, our author Fink has spent what must've been the best part of a lifetime decoding the pronouncements and pontifications of this infuriatingly obscurantist, obstinately obdurate and most perfect of charlatans. Lacan might be taking us for a ride but with Fink as a tour guide at least you end up with some sense of the scenery as it flies past your bemused gaze. Resultantly it's hard not to end up with some extremely useful critical thinking tools, without the need to spend your whole life in a Parisian coffee shop. There is useful discussion on demand, desire, the registers of the symbolic, imaginary and real, the subject and its relation to the Other, the fundamental fantasy, as well as practical advice on identifying and treating patients with various types of neurosis. Fink captures and distils a strong sense of the attitude a Lacanian practitioner should seek to engender, all with his feet on the ground which is no mean feat considering the disco-metapysics involved here. All things considered, he ought to get a purple heart for this colossal effort. Seeing as you can't get those from amazon, however, do him the courtesy of buying his book. It's probably worth it.


Continental Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
Continental Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
Price: £5.03

5.0 out of 5 stars I think you should buy this book, 21 Aug. 2013
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Don't be fooled into thinking this very short introduction shallow or trivial. Like many of its peers in the a.v.s.i.t series it's incredibly dense and covers an astonishing breadth of content for its number of pages. It offers a fascinating insight into the back and forth of an intellectual conflict that has existed between philosophers who identify themselves, or are identified with, the analytic and continental traditions. The origins of this dialectic and its present day manifestations are described in a semi-chronological order, with digressions where appropriate. Along the way you get a whistle-stop tour of some of the heavyweight thinkers who make up the ranks of these often opposing intellectual cultures. Optimistically, drawing on his own perspective, Critchley offers some measure of reconciliation in this respect, thankfully not in the tacky 'both sides are really saying the same thing' way which doesn't do justice to the measure of mutual exclusivity that does exist between these schools of thought, but somehow setting both 'sides' of this debate to a counterpoint which, to me, was satisfying and more importantly useful for my own critical thinking, all without being overbearing or partisan. Bravo.

The style is crisp, well organised and set at a level which can be approached by a relative newcomer to this field (which I certainly consider myself to be), with occasional flourishes of humour, and as mentioned above, the author's own insights which have clearly been hard won through his own many years of study.

Due to my own vanity, I struggled with my preconception of this as a beginners book - "I should fly through this and understand everything, being a very short introduction after all" I told myself. Wrong! My advice: treat this with the respect it deserves and read it slowly and carefully. You might just learn something.


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