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Pethick, L. (2013). Avoiding Emotions, Living Emotions by Antonino Ferro, translated by Ian Harvey. The New Library of Psychoanalysis. Published by Routledge in association with the Institute of Psychoanalysis, London, 2011; 222 pp; £23.99.. Brit. J. Psychother., 29(1):122-125.

(2013). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 29(1):122-125

Avoiding Emotions, Living Emotions by Antonino Ferro, translated by Ian Harvey. The New Library of Psychoanalysis. Published by Routledge in association with the Institute of Psychoanalysis, London, 2011; 222 pp; £23.99.

Review by:
Linda Pethick

This is the latest in a series of books that Antonino Ferro has been writing since the early 1990s, which describe in progressively more evolved and detailed terms the model of the mind that he has been developing together with the clinical use of the concept of the analytic field.

In two central chapters, ‘Bion: Theoretical and Clinical Comments’ (Chapter 4) and ‘Bion's Thinking and its Fertilization: Clinical Implications’ (Chapter 5), Ferro outlines how his thought derives from Bion. Ferro confesses to liking the later work best, the Bion of the Seminars and Discussions, 1974-80. These are Bion at his most creative, and it is the ‘unsaturated’ nature of the text (an important word for Ferro) that he finds most stimulating, giving him the opportunity for a constant stream of new thoughts and ideas of his own. Ferro recommends reading the Seminars first and ‘once one has grasped the spirit, the way of thinking, the courage that emanates from each of these seminars, one can then go on to his more theoretical works’ (p. 49). These should be read in groups, he says, ‘because they are like freeze-dried food requiring continuous hydration to turn them into something unexpectedly and extraordinarily alive’ (p. 49).

Ferro believes that there is a ‘quantum leap’ between the early, strongly Kleinian matrix and the later Bion:

Bion provides us with a set of tools for thinking we previously did not possess and which enable us to think things we previously could not think.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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