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Rizzuto, A. (2010). Spontaneity: A Psychoanalytic Inquiry. By Gemma Corradi Fiumara. London/New York: Routledge, 2009. 149 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 79(3):855-864.

(2010). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 79(3):855-864

Spontaneity: A Psychoanalytic Inquiry. By Gemma Corradi Fiumara. London/New York: Routledge, 2009. 149 pp.

Review by:
Ana-María Rizzuto

Gemma Corradi Fiumara is an Italian training analyst and a retired professor of philosophy at the Third University of Rome. Her previous books have offered psychoanalysts profound reflections about essential theoretical aspects of psychoanalysis: The Symbolic Function, The Other Side of Language, The Metaphoric Process, and The Mind's Affective Life. Her new book, Spontaneity: A Psychoanalytic Inquiry, builds on the accumulated insights of her previous contributions.

Psychoanalysts have focused on technical issues of spontaneity in their practice: ritual, restraint, improvisation, self-disclosure in relation to spontaneity. Self-disclosure frequently arises not from technical considerations, but from a momentary impulse on the part of the analyst to convey something to the analysand during a session. The focus is on the analyst's mode of functioning.

Corradi Fiumara returns to the etymological origin of the term, the Latin expression sua sponte, which means “of one's free will, of one's own accord” (p. 5). This spontaneity can only arise from the core of human experience and poses critical questions of agency, particularly subjective agency, in all our psychic activities. The focus in this conception of spontaneity is on assisting the analysand to increase the capacity to be the agent of his psychic functioning. Yet the author recognizes how elusive spontaneity is as a concept.

For, in fact, we cannot ask the question “What is spontaneity?” It only exists as a worthy concern if we are interested in the quest and question of spontaneous actions. And although it cannot be approached as a topic of empirical research, once our attention, or insight, has captured its psychic intensity, it will ultimately enhance the quality of clinical observation, [p.

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