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Parment, U. (1997). Christopher Bollas: Being a Character: Psychoanalysis and Self Experience.: London: Routledge, 1993.. Int. Forum Psychoanal., 6(1):59-62.

(1997). International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 6(1):59-62

Christopher Bollas: Being a Character: Psychoanalysis and Self Experience.: London: Routledge, 1993.

Review by:
Ulla-Britt Parment, B.A

“Certain objects, like psychic ‘keys’, open doors to unconsciously intense—and rich—experience in which we articulate the Self that we are through the elaborating character of our response”, writes Bollas. Being a Character functions as such a “key” for me; I get lost in it, drawn into a texture, a language vibrating of life and intensity. Not only does Bollas interpret some theories from a new perspective, he also suggests new ones. He combines every-day-experiences with clinical case studies. He adds to his psychoanalytical knowledge experiences from artists, writers and composers in order to convey, what he considers to be hindrances and possibilities for a rich and creative life. Because of the complexity and magnitude of the book's content it is easy to lose oneself in it. Consequently I have tried to grasp the essence of those parts which I found most evocative and which triggered my free associations.

In the first part of Being a Character Bollas explores different aspects of “Self Experiencing” as a prerequisite for developing and unfolding the self that we are. Bollas argues that we consciously or unconsciously choose or select those objects which have the potential to express our character or idiom. This is a concept used by Bollas essentially in the same way as Winnicott's “true self”, though not identical to it. Not only do we choose our objects, but Bollas holds that we also, in a sense, are chosen by them.

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