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Levine, H.B. Reed, G.S. (2015). Prologue: Responses to the Work of Antonino Ferro. Psychoanal. Inq., 35(5):449-450.

(2015). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 35(5):449-450


Prologue: Responses to the Work of Antonino Ferro

Howard B. Levine, M.D. and Gail S. Reed, Ph.D.

Throughout most of our history, the clinical aims of psychoanalysis have been seen predominantly in the light of insight; conflict resolution; the lifting of repression and the overcoming of splits; historical reconstruction; and the expansion and strengthening of the ego and the self via working through of previously defended against memories, wishes, phantasies, and other hidden psychic contents. Although these time-honored aims are still relevant, over the past 25 years they have been joined, if not in part supplanted, by an emphasis on the creation and/or strengthening of the instruments for thinking. Perhaps most central to this enterprise has been the work of Bion, whose theory of thinking and descriptions of alpha function and container/contained have been important milestones in helping analysts to recognize and increasingly focus upon the intersubjective dimensions of the psychoanalytic encounter and their dynamic role in the organization and formation of the psyche.

For all of their brilliance, however, Bion’s writings aimed more at the preparation of the mind of the analyst for his or her encounter with the patient and did not contain extensive clinical examples or specific recommendations for technique. His was what might be called a strategic/conceptual approach to understanding the analytic relationship. What he did not furnish, and what the work of Antonino Ferro provides, is a more tactical approach, one that is richly illustrated with case vignettes that demonstrate the clinical implications of Bion’s ideas, and take those ideas beyond their original limits to new areas of analytic exposition.

[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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