Landscapes of the Dark: History, Trauma, Psychoanalysis
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In this important new collection of essays, Jonathan Sklar argues that the founding tension between Freud's commitment to interpretation and Ferenczi's extra parameter of 'being in the experience' has a central place/key role to play in contemporary psychoanalytic debate, and that this tension can best be understood by returning to the place of trauma in psychoanalysis. Taking this debate into the heart of the clinical setting, a set of extensive, penetrating and often disturbing case studies examine the evocation of the real as early trauma for many patients and its subsequent mental development - a case of schizophrenia, a man with a severe tic (spasmodic Torticollis), and a neurotic with a somatic resistance to ending a long analysis.
Reviews and Endorsements
With an introduction by Christopher Bollas and contributions by Michael Parsons.
'In this marvellous work, Jonathan Sklar achieves the rare feat of integrating a highly sophisticated and scholarly treatment of key concepts of clinical psychoanalytic theory, as argued by many contributors to the field including Freud, Ferenczi, and Sklar himself, with the most elegant clinical vignettes, demonstrating the arduous work of everyday clinical practice. Many of the theoretical arguments are based on the work of European (primarily British) thinkers, and analysts not as familiar with them will find a superb synthesis of their positions. It is hard to imagine, however, that every psychoanalyst - from the most seasoned to the beginner - would not benefit from the study of this book. Beautifully written and richly textured, I would advise savouring a few pages at a time, not only for the sheer pleasure of enjoying the material, but also in order to be able to assimilate the wealth of insights contained in each paragraph. This is a book to come back to over and over again.'
- Edward Nersessian, MD, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Weil-Cornell Medical College, Training and Supervising Psychoanalyst, The New York Psychoanalytic Institute
'Landscapes of the Dark is a meditation on the meanings and practice of psychoanalysis which reaffirms free association and history in the clinical encounter and beyond. Jonathan Sklar's concern is trauma in the individual as it makes itself felt in psychotic moments or "enactments", in "flitting thoughts" or silence; manifestations of the transfer of thought from unconscious to unconscious in the consulting room, which shape and determine the patient's movement through daily life and which stem from the tension between real event and trauma in the mind of the analysand. The analyst listens, pays patient attention to several temporal dimensions at once, and his capacity to bear the powerful emotion which fills the room - like a symphony, a poem, or sometimes a dark, cold, landscape - are his contribution to the arduous work of analysis. Here are insights to cherish: who can forget the woman who left the scarlet handkerchief pinched between two doors; the child alone downstairs in the lounge while her mother continually "took to her bed"; or, indeed, the analyst enduring despair? Sklar reflects on real events that scar modern history. His work in the European Psychoanalytic Federation (which now includes the Middle East, parts of Africa and more) demonstrates the ways in which inner and outer worlds are indissoluably linked. Everyone interested in how the mind works should read Landscapes of the Dark; Sklar breathes new life into its tensions, faultlines, and sources of creativity.'
- Sally Alexander, Emeritus Professor of Modern History, Goldsmiths, University of London
About the Author(s)
Jonathan Sklar, MBBS, FRCPsych, is a training analyst and fellow of the British Psychoanalytic Society. Originally trained in psychiatry at Friern and the Royal Free Hospitals, he worked for four years in psychotherapy at the Tavistock Clinic in London. For many years he was consultant psychotherapist and head of the psychotherapy department at Addenbrookes and Fulbourn hospital in Cambridge. He now works in full time analytic practice in London. He teaches and supervises at the Institute of Psychoanalysis; teaches an MSc course on 'Ferenczi and Contemporary Psychoanalysis' at University College London; and teaches in Chicago. For the past five years, he has convened a psychoanalytic conference outside Cape Town and, for thirty years, has convened Balint groups working with general practitioners and psychiatrists. He has lectured widely throughout Europe as well as in South America. His psychoanalytic papers have been published in Italian, Spanish, French, and Portuguese. From 2007-2011 he was Vice President of the European Psychoanalytic Federation.
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