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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Brett C. Plyler, M.D.(Northwestern Memorial Hospital)
Description: This book details the author's latest work on severe personality disorders, couples in conflict, psychoanalytic research, and the neurobiological underpinnings of affect and behavior.
Purpose: The title refers to Freud's twin drives of libido and death and what contemporary research can teach us about them.
Audience: It is intended for anyone interested in the field of psychoanalysis. It is sufficiently complex that readers should have at least some prior knowledge in the fields of psychoanalysis and neurobiology.
Features: The book begins with the exploration of new diagnostic and treatment methods for severe personality disorders and more specifically that of severe narcissistic personality disorder. Concepts of identity, transference-focused psychotherapy, and managing countertransference are discussed in part one. The second section examines the drive theory through the lens of modern neurobiology and affect theory. Of particular note are the chapters on the death drive and mourning. Part three looks at sexual love from both a psychodynamic and biologic perspective. The fourth part relates the author's perspective on the problems facing psychoanalysis as a whole, and the last part addresses the psychodynamic factors involved in the religious experience.
Assessment: This author's work is always fascinating and thought-provoking. Not everyone in the field of psychoanalysis may agree with him, but this book is well worth the time to read, especially for those who treat patients with severe personality disorders. I particularly enjoyed his efforts at bringing together neurobiology, affect theory, and psychoanalytic thought. I would have liked to see more detail on this topic, but that is a book in and of itself. The spiritual chapter at the end of the book seems like an afterthought, but otherwise this is an excellent addition to Dr. Kernberg's lexicon and I strongly recommend it.