Christopher Bollas is perhaps the most prolific and widely read psychoanalytic author at work today. It's easy to see why this should be so. His books are written in a conversational style that quickly establishes a friendly, frank relation with his reader, and he exudes the confidence of a master practitioner: he is above all a man of (clinical) experience. He knows his way around - and is happy to introduce you to - the intricate workings of the psyche. He makes the ideas of Freud, Klein, Bion and Winnicott vivid by using examples from richly described clinical settings as well as daily life. He is also in dialogue with these writers, offering amendments and revised formulations. Over the years I have heard numerous mental health professionals and professors in the humanities say that it was Bollas's work that enabled them finally to understand the concept of object-relations. The Shadow of the Object: Psychoanalysis of the Unthought Known is required reading for anyone interested in how object-relations make an impact on the internal object world; and Hysteria shows, better than any other book I know, why hysteria is still a clinically significant concept. Anyone whose heart sinks at the thought of turning to DSM IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) should go to Bollas, who shows what dynamic psychological thinking can do.
LRB 11 March 2010 | PDF Download