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E. James Lieberman

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Acts of Will: The Life and Work of Otto Rank
by E. James Lieberman   

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Publisher:  Free Press; U. Massachusetts pb ISBN-10:  087023871X Type: 


Copyright:  Mar 1 1985

Otto Rank: Psychologist and Philosoper
Otto Rank: Psychologist and Philosopher

First full biography of Viennese-American psychologist. He turned away from his mentor, Freud, to emphasize humanistic, creative therapy.

Otto Rank (1884-1939) was Freud's closest co-worker for two decades (1906-1925), then became a keen critic of traditional psychoanalysis in favor of a more egalitarian, creative psychotherapy. He was neglected for many years, eclipsed during the years of Freudian dominance in the U.S., then began coming into his own thanks to writings by Carl Rogers, Rollo May, Esther Menaker, Ernest Becker, and Anais Nin. Excerpt
To patients' vulnerability--love, anger, pain, joy--Rank responded humanely, withiin clinical bounds. While discovering the mother in himself Rank also recognized the limit to the protective, healing touch of maternal love: the need to separate, the trauma of birth. Rank taught that each analytic hour, a partial life, contains union and separation, as does the whole therapeutic relationship on a larger scale. (p. xlv).

Professional Reviews

Library Journal March 1, 1985 (*)
...Dr. Lieberman manages to convey the complexity of the conflicts within Freud's circle of followers, both personal and professional, as he skillfully integrates the major sources on Freud's life and the early years of the psychoanalytic movement....the book affords an excellent introduction--for both scholars and informed lay readers--to the work of a brilliant psychoanalytic innovator whose seminal theories on birth trauma, separation anxiety, and time-limited therapy (to name just a few) are still central issues today.
--Paul Hymowitz

Paperback ed. with new preface, Amherst: U. Massachusetts Press, 1993; You may purchase this book
--[Clothbound, Free Press, 1985.]
French translation La volonte en acte: La vie et l'oeuvre d'Otto Rank, Paris: PUF, 1991.
German translation Otto Rank: Leben und Werk Giessen: Psychosozial-Verlag, 1997.

New York Times, 3/ 24/1985
...But the significant drama in Rank's life is the interior one that springs from the workings of his mind, the strangeness of his intellectual development, the power and originality of his ideas. Fortunately, these are the areas in which Dr. Lieberman is at his best. He does an excellent job of setting forth clearly the evolution of Rank's thought in relation to his life and his milieu. It is not an easy task. Rank's ideas were so profound, so ineffable, so far ahead of his time that one has the impression he could never find the language in which to express them. In his writings, overwhelmingly brilliant and sometimes nearly unreadable, different realms of discourse swirl and collide - Schopenhauer's and Nietzsche's philosophies of the will, the psychoanalytic unconscious, the biology of sex, anthropology and sociology, metaphysics, art history and religion, all of it lurching toward transcendence.
--Michael Vincent Miller

The complete text can be found on the New York Times website.

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