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Hart, M. (2003). Conversations at the frontier of dreaming By Thomas H. Ogden. Northvale, NJ and London: Jason Aronson, Inc. Pp. 255. 1st edn. 2001.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 84(3):769-772.

(2003). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 84(3):769-772

Book reviews

Conversations at the frontier of dreaming By Thomas H. Ogden. Northvale, NJ and London: Jason Aronson, Inc. Pp. 255. 1st edn. 2001.

Review by:
Melanie Hart

I have long wished that psychoanalytic institutions would interest themselves actively in the teaching possibilities inherent in poetry. In this marvellous new book Thomas Ogden beautifully conveys how poetry can sharpen our ears for reverberations of emotional meaning carried from unconscious to preconscious by metaphor and by the expressive sound of the human voice. His intention is to help us listen to our patients and communicate with them on as profound a level as possible—the level at which we hold our deepest conversations with ourselves. That he can do so depends upon his capacities both as a listener and as a writer.

Ogden has always written well. Who could forget the start of Subjects of analysis?

It is too late to turn back. Having read the opening words of this book you have already begun to enter into the unsettling experience of finding yourself becoming a subject whom you have not yet met, but nonetheless recognize (1994, p. 1).

This unexpected and direct invitation into the unheimlich carried the reader immediately into the heart of Ogden's discussion. Rather than just tell the reader what he thinks, Ogden wished to convey an experience of what he thinks. This is particularly helpful in psychoanalytic writing where the focus is predominantly clinical and the cognitive content more fully understood if somehow linked up experientially to feeling. But it is difficult to do, and examples of it (Freud, Winnicott and Bollas come to mind) are exceptional.

Conversations at the frontier of dreaming belongs among these exceptions.

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