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Bollas, C. (1984). Moods and the Conservative Process. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 65:203-212.

(1984). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 65:203-212

Moods and the Conservative Process

Christopher Bollas

I wish to address selected features of the nature and function of moods because I have found that certain analysands establish crucial being states in the transference and they do this primarily through the living through of a mood experience. Although the patients, whom I will describe in due course, are capable of articulate verbalization of their internal states of mind, and ordinarily able to provide me with a narrative of their lived life, it became increasingly clear that important areas of the analysand's self experience were expressed through moods. Although my consideration of this subject will focus on the clinical situation, and I will tend to restrict myself to a study of those moods that are characterological—those that are repeated forms of being states—I shall begin my study with a few observations on moods in general.

A person is often described as being 'in' a mood, giving those of us who are not in such a condition of being, the sense that the one in a mood is 'inside' some special state. How far inside the mood is someone? How long will it last? Spatial and temporal metaphors register something of the special nature of this phenomenon. 'Don't worry', a friend may say of another 'he will come out of it sooner or later'.

A curious aspect about being in a mood is that it does not totally restrict one's ability to communicate to the other; a person can be both in a mood and capable of dealing with phenomena outside the mood space. Yet to an onlooker, it is clear that the person who is inside a mood is also not present in some private and fundamental way and this absence marks out the territory of mood space.

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