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The Shadow of the Object: Psychoanalysis of the Unthought Known, Thirtieth Anniversary Edition
Christopher Bollas
Columbia University Press / Softcover / Sep 2017
9780231185073 (ISBN-10: 0231185073)
price: $41.95
304 pages
In Stock (Ships within one business day)

During our formative years, we are continually “impressed” by the object world. Most of this experience will never be consciously thought, but it resides within us as assumed knowledge. In this influential work, Christopher Bollas terms this “the unthought known,” offering radical new visions of the scope of psychoanalysis that expand our understanding of the creativity of the unconscious mind and the aesthetics of human character.

The Shadow of the Object integrates aspects of Freud’s theory of unconscious thinking with elements from the British Object Relations School. Aspects of the unthought known—the primary repressed unconscious—emerge during psychoanalysis as a mood, the aesthetic of a dream, or in our relation to the self as other. Within the unique analytic relationship, it becomes possible, at least in part, to think the unthought—an experience that has enormous transformative potential.

First published in 1987, The Shadow of the Object remains a classic of the psychoanalytic literature written by a truly original thinker. The concept of the unthought known has influenced many areas of study, including literature, psychology, and the arts. This anniversary edition includes a new preface by Christopher Bollas.


A member of the Independent Group of the British Psychoanalytical Society, Christopher Bollas is a truly independent thinker. He finds his own way through the tribes of contemporary psychoanalysis, not as a follower, but as a single wanderer.
— André Green, former vice president of the International Psychoanalytical Association

This is a unique and remarkable book. . . . One of the most interesting and important books on psychoanalysis . . . in the last decade. It is also a beautiful book.
— International Journal of Psychoanalysis

A mind-expanding experience.
— American Journal of Psychiatry

Clinically perceptive, and thought-provoking. . . . Exquisitely sensitive to affective nuances as clues to early, preoedipal events and their developmental consequences.
— Psychoanalytic Quarterly


Preface to the Anniversary Edition
I. The Shadow of the Object
1. The transformational object
2. The spirit of the object as the hand of fate
3. The self as object
4. At the other's play: to dream
5. The trisexual
II. Moods
6. Moods and the conservative process
7. Loving hate
8. Normotic illness
9. Extractive introjection
III. Countertransference
10. The liar
11. The psychoanalyst and the hysteric
12. Expressive uses of the countertransference
13. Self analysis and the countertransference
14. Ordinary regression to dependence
IV. Epilogue
15. The unthought known: early considerations

About the Author:

Christopher Bollas is a Member of the British Psychoanalytical Society and the Los Angeles Institute and Society for Psychoanalytical Research.

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