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The title of this work might lead us to expect a comprehensive text on depressive illness, but this is not the author's intent. Edith Jacobson is an outstanding psychoanalytic clinician and theoretician. This book is a collection of her papers on the psychoanalytic conceptualization and treatment of depression, as it appears in normal mood swings and in neurotic and psychotic personalities.
Furthermore, the book is not designed to be a comprehensive study of all psychoanalytic views of depression. Rather, it records the struggles of one particularly gifted person to understand depression within the framework of classical Freudian psychoanalytic theory and the ego-psychological studies of Heinz Hartmann. In all of the papers Dr. Jacobson presupposes familiarity with classical psychoanalytic concepts and with the influential work of Hartmann.
The book starts with a 40-page paper on the psychoanalytic theory of affects. Some readers may have difficulty following Jacobson's theoretical exposition. For them
Flarsheim A. Depression: Comparative Studies of Normal, Neurotic, and Psychotic Conditions. JAMA. 1972;220(4):594–595. doi:10.1001/jama.1972.03200040106046