This lecture will focus on the challenges faced by psychotherapists and psychologically-minded persons in our current social and political era. How do psychoanalysts, analytical psychologists, depth psychologists—people whose predicate is based on the reflective self—work within a social milieu in which thoughtfulness itself seems at the least annoying and at worst a threat by many to the body politic? We will review the “long wave” of intellectual climate change from the mid-19th century to our time, as well as the “short wave” changes initiated by the explosions in venture capital, social media, and the mesmerizing effect of android anticipation.
If we understand that many of the problems brought by contemporary clients have to do with failures to find ways to work within a sociopathic culture—which is the “new normal”—what clinical challenges does this pose? If we see contemporary sociopathy as an evolved form of splitting, in which selves are split in complex mazes of interacting but non-communicating compartments, then the clinical challenge becomes one of how to negotiate an internal democracy in which these splits hear from one another.
Christopher Bollas graduated from the University of California-Berkeley with a degree in history. He studied intellectual history with Carl Schorske, American history with Kenneth Stampp, political theory with Sheldon Wolin, and psychoanalytical studies with Frederick Crews and Alan Dundes. He gained a PhD at the University of Buffalo in English literature where he studied with Norman Holland, Leslie Fiedler, Rene Girard, Michel Foucault, Robert Hass, and Angus Fletcher. He has been visiting lecturer at the University of Buffalo, the University of East Anglia, Brunel University and was Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts from 1983-87. He has been Visiting Professor of Psychoanalysis at the University of Rome from 1978-1999. He trained in psychoanalysis at the Institute of Psychoanalysis in London and in Adult Psychotherapy at the Tavistock Clinic in London. His first book The Shadow of the Object: Psychoanalysis of the Unthought Known was published in 1987 and his most recent work When The Sun Burst: The Enigma of Schizophrenia was published by Yale in 2015. He is the author of many works of non fiction, three novels, and five plays. Two books have been written on his work: The Vitality of Object :Exploring the Work of Christopher Bollas edited by Joseph Scalia (Continuum, Wesleyan, 2002) and The Metapsychology of Christopher Bollas: An Introduction by Sarah Nettleton (Routledge, 2016). His works have been published in Swedish, Danish, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, Hebrew, Turkish, Romanian, Ukranian, and Serbian. He has been described by The Townsend Center (UC-Berkeley) in 2016 as “the most influential psychoanalyst writing in English today”, by Al-Haaretz in 2010 as “one of the two most important living theoreticians in the world of psychoanalysis” and by Adam Phillips as “the most evocative psychoanalytic writer we have”.
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