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Taylor, K. (2020). When the sun bursts: The enigma of schizophrenia: by Christopher Bollas, Yale, University Books, 2015, 212 pp., $18 (hardback), ISBN: 9780300223651. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 101(4):830-835.

(2020). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 101(4):830-835

When the sun bursts: The enigma of schizophrenia: by Christopher Bollas, Yale, University Books, 2015, 212 pp., $18 (hardback), ISBN: 9780300223651

Kathy Taylor

When the Sun Bursts is a richly condensed book, written from Christopher Bollas’s extensive clinical experience of schizophrenia. With his characteristic pithy style, it is vividly alive with

textured description and compassionate resonance of the experience of both living with schizophrenia and attempting to work with it clinically. Bollas wants us to know in this book how much he respects the schizophrenic patients he has worked with and to share with us just how difficult is the work of being in the experience and making sense of it, for both patient and analyst. In Part One, Bollas gives an illustrative account of his chronological journey in developing his experience with psychosis. He moves, in a somewhat autobiographical way, from his experience working with psychotic and autistic children at East Bay Activity Centre in California, USA, to beginning as a counsellor with students at the University of Buffalo and then to his move to London to train at the Tavistock Clinic and the Institute of Psychoanalysis. Theory is addressed in Part Two of the book – his way of thinking about why schizophrenic people behave in the ways they do. In Part Three, he turns to his views on the psychotherapy of schizophrenia in a brief final section.

Bollas describes his book as the record of his development in understanding psychosis: “to work with a schizophrenic was to study the enigma of being human and the potential to lose one’s mind” (2). He is clear that he is not intending to address causal explanations for schizophrenia and that he will not review the vast literature on causation, treatment or outcomes.

[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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