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James, D.C. (1988). The Shadow of the Object: Psychoanalysis of the Unthought Known: By Christopher Bollas. London: Free Association Books. 1987. Pp. 283 + xxxvii.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 69:558-561.

(1988). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 69:558-561

The Shadow of the Object: Psychoanalysis of the Unthought Known: By Christopher Bollas. London: Free Association Books. 1987. Pp. 283 + xxxvii.

Review by:
D. Colin James

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time

(Costing not less than everything)
T. S. Eliot: Little Gidding (1944).

This is an unique and remarkable book. I think of it as one of the most interesting and important new books on psychoanalysis which I have read in the last decade.

It is also a beautiful book, particularly in the language which Bollas uses to describe the subtle shifts in object relationships and the intricate and highly original formulations of the clinical phenomena which he explores so well. There are however a few places where the complexity of the shifts do not make for clear description, and here Bollas' language becomes complicated. Throughout there are detailed vignettes, and one obtains a clear view of Bollas at work as a clinician. His theory is substantiated by his examples, which are vivid.

It is also a very respectful book, in that Bollas, almost on every page, decrees an utter respect for the individuality of the patient, and a deep concern about the valid activity of the analyst. He captures the essence of the analytic process for both persons involved, whilst clarifying many otherwise hidden aspects of the analyst's task.

Bollas' work will demand further attention, and the sheer logic of his approach to the issues raised by countertransference will ensure a wide audience, and detailed study of his work.

We

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