"Delusions of Everyday Life" by Leonard Shengold

Delusions of Everyday Life Leonard Shengold

Publication date:
24 May 1995
Yale University Press
234 pages: 210 x 140mm
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We are all more primitive and irrational than we care to acknowledge, says Dr. Leonard Shengold in this profound and eloquent book. We all suffer to some degree from delusions—vestiges of infantile mental functioning that continue into adult life and that at times of crisis manifest themselves in narcissistic thoughts of omnipotence, immortality, or perfection. Dr. Shengold argues that we can never eliminate these delusions of everyday life, but we can lessen their effect if we acknowledge, or "own", them. He asserts that insight into what we are and what has happened to us is a prerequisite for caring about others and for accepting the transient conditions of life—both necessary to attain happiness.

Dr. Shengold discusses delusions we all experience as well as delusions associated with paranoia, perversions, being in love, and identification with delusional parents. He illustrates his ideas by referring to the lives and works of such literary figures as Shakespeare, Swift, Tolstoy, Pascal, Rilke, Randall Jarrell, Dickens, Hardy, and, especially, Samuel Butler. Dr. Shengold also brings in relevant clinical material because, as he points out, delusions of everyday life are at the heart of misunderstanding and conflict in life and of resistance to change in psychological treatment. These delusions must be attenuated if therapy is to be successful.

"A very readable, thought-provoking book. . . . Illuminating and enriching for anyone interested in interpreting human behaviour."?Gillian Mottram, Faith & Freedom

"Shengold believes that change can occur when we acknowledge our distortions; his book is nevertheless sobering in its linking of the study and experience of human behavior. It is very well done."?Martin Sylvester, Readings: A Journal of Reviews and Commentary in Mental Health

"The author has illustrated his suppositions admirable in this book which will be of great value to any psychoanalyst. Shengold illustrates his points with literary references, biographical data on literary figures, and rich clinical data, which adds to the impact of this work. It is well grounded in object relations and relational theory. It gets the analyst to look at himself or herself as well as his or her patients leaving the reader-therapist in a better position to provide empathic treatment. . . . This volume is highly recommended."?Irwin L. Kutash, Contemporary Psychology

"Shengold has once again succeeded in making psychoanalysis come alive for a broad spectrum of readers, ranging from analytic colleagues to interested laypeople."?Michael Robbins, Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association

"The clarity of ideas in this work is furthered by the author's capacity to relate numerous clinical examples from his practice, as well as many literary examples. . . . The author spices his ideas with excellent clinical examples and references to myth and fiction to illustrate his theoretical argument."?Alan Z. Skolnikoff, Psychoanalytic Quarterly