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Power, D.G. (2020). On Slouching, Evolving, and Transforming: In Appreciation of Nina Coltart’s “Slouching Towards Bethlehem … or Thinking the Unthinkable in Psychoanalysis”. Psychoanal. Inq., 40(2):100-108.

(2020). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 40(2):100-108

On Slouching, Evolving, and Transforming: In Appreciation of Nina Coltart’s “Slouching Towards Bethlehem … or Thinking the Unthinkable in Psychoanalysis”

David G. Power, Ph.D.

In her now-classic paper “Slouching Towards Bethlehem … or Thinking the Unthinkable in Psychoanalysis,” Coltart invites us to consider the process of analytic development as it unfolds in the course of deep analytic work, an unfolding movement she highlights as the gradual evolution from that which is unthinkable toward that which becomes thinkable. In dialogue with Coltart, I discuss how this central theme in her paper captures a process at the heart of psychoanalysis for both the analysand and for the analyst, not only in his or her work with the analysand but as well in the personal evolution and coming-into-being of one’s analytic identity. I offer some reflections on my own development as an analyst to illustrate Coltart’s view on this coming-into-being of both who the analyst is, and yet is always also becoming. Throughout my essay, I underscore Coltart’s deep appreciation of and conversation with Bion, emphasizing their many areas of overlap. Finally, I describe how contemporary work on unrepresented mental states echoes the very same clinical concerns and technical sensibilities that are the heart of Coltart’s paper.

[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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