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The Sound of the Unconscious: Psychoanalysis as Music
Ludovica Grassi
IPA & Routledge / Softcover / 2021-06-01 / 036764553X
Other Applied Psychoanalysis / On Music and Sound
reg price: $53.50 our price: $ 50.83
176 pages
In Stock (Ships within one business day)

In this book, Grassi explores the importance of music in psychoanalysis and the place of listening for rhythm within it, arguing that music is a basic working tool for psyche, as words are composed of sound, rhythm and intonation more than lexical meaning.

Starting from ethnomusicological, evolutionary, neurodevelopmental, psychological and psychoanalytical perspectives, the book explores music’s symbolic status, structure and way of operating compared to unconscious psychic functioning. Extraordinary similarities are revealed, especially in mechanisms such as repetition, imitation, variation (transformation), intimacy and the work of mourning, of the negative and of nostalgia. Moreover, silence and absence are essential components of music as well as of psychic and symbolic functioning. Time and temporality are specifically investigated in the book as key elements both in music and in symbolization and subjectivation processes. The role of the word’s phonic kernel and of the voice as fundamental links to emotions, the body, the sexual and the infantile has promising implications for psychoanalytic work. All these elements find an articulation in the natural as well as complex activity of listening, which conveys a tri-dimensional and polyphonic dimension of the world, so important both in music and in psychoanalysis.

Illuminating the link between music and analysis in new and contemporary ways, The Sound of the Unconscious explores the resulting advances in theory and clinical practice and will be of great interest to practicing and training psychoanalysts and psychotherapists.


"An amazing combination of the most sophisticated, technically documented and profound psychoanalytic reflection on music, with a "musical" and sensitive description of psychoanalytic concepts and processes. By far the most advanced exploration today in this specific area, based on the author’s high expertise in both fields." - Stefano Bolognini, Past President of the International Psychoanalytical Association

Table of Contents

Foreword – by Harriet L. Wolfe 1. Sound and Rhythm in Psychic Life and Psychoanalytic Work 2. Listening to the Link. Music and Primal Relationships 3. On Imitation: From Transcription to Repetition, Imitation and Variation 4. The Music Is Not in the Notes... Intimacy and the Negative in Music 5. Beyond Space, Time. Temporality in the Family Field 6. Musical Dialogues. The Baby in a World of Sound and Rhythm 7. The Musical Unconscious in the Family 8. Silence and Absence. Sound and Music During the Coronavirus Pandemic. Afterword – by Anna Maria Nicolò

About the Author:

Ludovica Grassi, MD, is a Child Neuropsychiatrist, Full Member of the Italian Society of Psychoanalysis and IPA, Expert in Child and Adolescent Psychoanalysis, and Couple and Family Psychoanalyst. Her research and publication main topics are: ethnopsychoanalysis; music and psychoanalysis; the origins of psychic life; psychoanalytic work with infants, children, adults, couples, and families.

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On Music and Sound
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