Cherishment: A Psychology of the Heart

Elisabeth Young-Bruehl, Author, Faith Bethelard, Author, Faith Bethelard, Joint Author Free Press $24 (272p) ISBN 978-0-684-85966-8
Synthesizing classical Freudian theory and the writings of Japanese psychoanalyst Takeo Doi, biographer Young-Bruehl (Anna Freud, etc.) and psychotherapist Bethelard attempt to improve our understanding of infant psychology. Although Freud's drive theory describes a range of sexual and aggressive desires, it offers little to account for a baby's preverbal expectation of care--what Doi calls amae--which the authors believe is an essential characteristic of infancy. Amae, translated here as ""cherishment,"" can be thought of as the dependence that derives from the self-preservative interests of the ego; therefore, the authors contend, it can be included among Freud's ego instincts. Using a collage of ""memoir, dialogue, theoretical exposition, poetry, meditation, travelogue, joke, essay, dreamtext, anecdote and vignette,"" Young-Bruehl and Bethelard argue that cherishment is a need that persists throughout a person's psychological development and can lead to psychopathology if unfulfilled. Although they succeed in showing the relevance of Doi's theory to modern infant research, they fall short of demonstrating that cherishment truly fills a gap in psychoanalytic language. A vast literature already demonstrates the ""preadaptedness"" of the infant to recognize its mother and to expect to be loved. Additionally, Ronald Fairbairn long ago attempted to describe human development in terms of striving for ""mature dependence."" Nonetheless, the authors' personal style and therapeutic tales make their intriguing exploration accessible to general readers. Agent, Georges Borchardt. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
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