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The Shadow of the Object Summary

The Shadow of the Object: Psychoanalysis of the Unthought Known by Christopher Bollas (Member of the British Psychoanalytical Society, London, UK)

In The Shadow of the Object, Christopher Bollas integrates aspects of Freud's theory of unconscious thinking with elements from the British Object Relations School. In doing so, he offers radical new visions of the scope of psychoanalysis and expands our understanding of the creativity of the unconscious mind and the aesthetics of human character.

During our formative years, we are continually impressed by the object world. Most of this experience will never be consciously thought, and but it resides within us as assumed knowledge. Bollas has termed this the unthought known, a phrase that has ramified through many realms of human exploration, including the worlds of letters, psychology and the arts.

Aspects of the unthought known --the primary repressed unconscious --will emerge during a psychoanalysis, as a mood, the aesthetic of a dream, or in our relation to the self as other. Within the unique analytic relationship, it becomes possible, at least in part, to think the unthought -- an experience that has enormous transformative potential.

Published here with a new preface by Christopher Bollas, The Shadow of the Object remains a classic of the psychoanalytic literature, written by a truly original thinker.

The Shadow of the Object Reviews

A member of the Independent Group of the British Psycho-Analytical Society, Christopher Bollas is a truly independent thinker. He finds his own way through the tribes of contemporary psychoanalysis, not as a follower, but as a single wanderer through the United States, England, and France mainly.-Andre Green

Reviews of The Shadow of the Object: Psychoanalysis of the Unthought Known.

. . . a book of great individuality. It offers an original theoretical view and clinical stance on issues which face any analyst or psychotherapist. . . . All in all, a really valuable book.-Journal of the British Association of Psychotherapists, 1987, Columbia University Press/New York.

This is a unique and remarkable book..,.It is also one of the most interesting and important books on the last decade. It is also a beautiful book.-International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 1988.

A mind expanding experience...-American Journal of Psychiatry, September 1988

Clinically perceptive, and thought-provoking...exquisitely sensitive to affective nuances as clues to early, preoedipal events and their developmental consequences...-The Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 1989

For those familiar with the current as well as the classical theories of psychoanalysis, reading Christopher Bollas's volume can be a mind expanding experience...In a very forthright manner Bollas addresses complexities, how he thinks about them, how he gets his ideas, and at times how he works on an idea without knowing exactly what it is he is thinking-a very creative illustration of his work with patients as well as ideas.-American Journal of Psychiatry, September 1988

There is much in this book that is wise, clinically perceptive, and thought-provoking. Bollas is clearly exquisitely sensitive to affective nuances as clues to early, preoedipal events and their developmental consequences...Bollas's book is a lucid, creative, balanced, and for the most part non-doctrinaire exposition. It deserves a respectful audience-The Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 1989

The most distinguishing features of this book are the author' expressive facility and the success with which he operates at the interface of theory and practice. Again and again throughout the book, Bollas manages to articulate complex problems and situations in ways that enhance understanding, especially when it comes to expressing in words the nonverbal or preverbal experiences Bollas refers to as 'the unthought known'.-Psychoanalytic Books: Volume 1, No4, 1990.

The Shadow of the Object and Forces of Destiny represent formidable original rethinking of major psychoanalytic ideas...That each chapter stands as a gem in itself reflects Bollas' way of working-that is, noticing something that piques his creativity and developing a paper about it...Regardless of your analytic orientation, you will enjoy Bollas's writing immensely, because it is so clinically provocative.-Psychologist Psychoanalyst , Fall, 1991.

About Christopher Bollas (Member of the British Psychoanalytical Society, London, UK)

Christopher Bollas is a Member of the British Psychoanalytical Society and the Los Angeles Institute and Society for Psychoanalytical Research.

Table of Contents

Preface to the 2017 Edition



1 The transformational object

2 The spirit of the object as the hand of fate

3 The self as object

4 At the other's play: to dream

5 The trisexual


6 Moods and the conservative process

7 Loving hate

8 Normotic illness

9 Extractive introjection


10 The liar

11 The psychoanalyst and the hysteric

12 Expressive uses of the countertransference

13 Self analysis and the countertransference

14 Ordinary regression to dependence


15 The unthought known: early considerations

Additional information

The Shadow of the Object: Psychoanalysis of the Unthought Known by Christopher Bollas (Member of the British Psychoanalytical Society, London, UK)
Taylor & Francis Ltd
Book picture is for illustrative purposes only, actual binding, cover or edition may vary.
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