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Ehrlich, R. (2001). The Mystery of Things: Christopher Bollas, Ph.D. London/New York: Routledge, 1999. 204 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 70(4):883-891.

(2001). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 70(4):883-891

The Mystery of Things: Christopher Bollas, Ph.D. London/New York: Routledge, 1999. 204 pp.

Review by:
Robert Ehrlich

In The Mystery of Things, Christopher Bollas explores the nature of the psychoanalytic method, particularly the process of free association, which he calls Freud's “greatest accomplishment” (p. 172). According to Bollas, it is highly unfortunate that free association has been “marginalised” (p. 70), since it is the principal way that psychoanalysis “can accomplish its aims” (p. 69).

Attempting to explore this issue in a historical context, Bollas differentiates “classical continental European psychoanalysis” from “Anglo-American classicism” (p. 185). He argues that the latter, which embraced ego psychology, undermined part of the core of the psychoanalytic method:

“Evenly suspended attentiveness” seemed to suffer a witless dismantling of its meaning: “evenly” became “even,” as in equanimous or calm; “suspended” became “removed” or “detached”; “attentiveness” became “attentive.”

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