1st Edition

Antonino Ferro A Contemporary Introduction

By Robert Snell Copyright 2024
    196 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    196 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book provides a clear, thorough, and accessible introduction to the work of Antonino Ferro and draws on the clinical vignettes that punctuate his writings to show how Ferro has built on Bion’s revolutionary achievements to develop a distinctive, game-changing version of field theory in psychoanalysis.

    The book clarifies the phenomenological insight that the analyst and the patient together generate an ever-evolving, intersubjective field. Rather than the supposed psychology of the individual, it is this populous and multidimensional field, a co-created ‘in-between’ rich in characters and stories, that is to be explored and elaborated. The primary points of access to this new ‘multiverse’ are dream, reverie, metaphor, and imagination. A radical Negative Capability is called for, not least to help dissolve co-constructed ‘bastions’ obstructing the field’s expansion. The book sketches out the Italian and international context in which Ferro developed his thinking and addresses some key critical questions. It concludes that Ferro’s life’s work, which marries theoretical rigour with a revitalising increase in playfulness and freedom of response, is a transformational force within psychoanalysis and a major catalyst in its evolution.

    This important volume is rewarding reading for beginning and seasoned analysts alike, as well as for psychotherapists, counsellors, humanities scholars, and anyone interested in psychoanalysis.

    Introduction  1. Foundations  2. The Bionian Dream Model  3. Practice and Theory 4.Discussion  5. Conclusion


    Robert Snell (Ph.D.) is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist in private practice, a member of the British Psychoanalytic Council and the British Psychotherapy Foundation, and an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at Roehampton University, UK.

    'I wanted to express my deep appreciation for your remarkable work that I have had the privilege of re-reading. As I absorbed the intricacies of the book, I found myself enthralled by the meticulous precision with which you delved into my thoughts, respecting my words and traversing each conceptual junction with unwavering patience. The profound essence of certain landscapes took on new meaning for me through the pages of this book. I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to you for your respect and understanding of the ideas put forth by complex authors. My sincere thanks for your invaluable contribution.'

    Antonino Ferro, President of the Italian Psychoanalytic Society, Training and Supervising Analyst in the Italian Psychoanalytic Society, the American Psychoanalytic Association, and the International Psychoanalytical Association

    'From the first moment I encountered Antonino Ferro's psychoanalysis I was infected by his enthusiasm and extraordinary creativity. There are several very good authors in the world of contemporary psychoanalysis who can be placed in the area that we broadly call relational, but despite their originality they can always be reabsorbed into the so-called mainstream. Not so Ferro. His thinking is revolutionary. No one like him has so thoroughly changed the way we understand the therapeutic relationship and practice psychoanalysis. Always proceeding with courage, consistency, great intelligence and a very human sense of humor, he has helped revitalize a noble art, but one that sometimes runs the risk of being reduced to ritualistic repetition of empty formulas and where deference to Freud's genius resembles more the litany of a religious rite than the exercise of a true love for research about the essence of what makes us human. It is about time that a monograph devoted entirely to him and his thought saw the light of day. For this we must be grateful to Robert Snell for, the author of this beautiful book. It is easy to predict that it will be a great success among all psychotherapists, psychoanalysts, humanities scholars and educated people interested in psychoanalysis.'

    Giuseppe Civitarese, MD. PhD, SPI, APsaA, IPA member, author of Sublime Subjects: Aesthetic Experience and Intersubjectivity in Psychoanalysis (2017, Routledge)

    'After exploring the relationship between post-Bionian Field Theory and Cèzanne's work, with various explorations in the world of art and philosophy, in his book Cèzanne and the Post-Bionian Field, Robert Snell publishes a complete exploratory manual of Ferro's work.  The knowledge of the psychoanalytical, philosophical and linguistic roots of BFT allows him to paint a harmonious picture of the post-Bionian Field Model and the evolution of Ferro's theoretical-clinical thought, without hiding problems and controversial points. The complete mastery of Bion's work and the long attendance of Italian psychoanalysis make Robert Snell's work a precious manual of approach to BFT. The clear style and the competent and balanced attitude make reading pleasant, not only to those who want to approach the fundamentals of BFT but also to those who, while attending it, try to put order in theoretical concepts and clinical practice.'

    Fulvio Mazzacane, Member of the SPI, President of the Centro Psicoanlitico di Pavia

    'This welcome overview of Nino Ferro, a major figure in contemporary international psychoanalysis, traces his roots to earlier developments in field theory and shows his continuing engagement with the late Bion. Snell’s familiarity with Italian psychoanalysis and with Italian culture more generally enables him to highlight Ferro’s profound contribution to psychoanalysis.'

    Lesley Caldwell, Psychoanalyst, British Psychoanalytic Association, member of the British Psychotherapy Foundation, Honorary Professor at the Psychoanalysis Unit at University College London, UK. Editor, Winnicott Studies Series, Routledge

    'In this splendid book, Robert Snell offers us a remarkable analysis of Antonino Ferro's work, providing us with the various tools that will enable us to join him on the journey of the post-Bionian field. It is a joy to see the process unfold through which it is possible to apprehend, as Snell puts it, the most fertile development in contemporary psychoanalysis. He begins by tracing its gestation before bringing together and examining in depth the field’s various elements, presenting us with a parade of concepts that unfold into intelligibility in a process well adapted to its object. The author characterizes Ferro’s own contribution in Ferro’s own words: ‘play and vitality’. Avoiding ‘compulsive transference interpretation’, Ferro, the author reminds us, takes as the axis of his understanding Bion’s ‘waking dream thought’: Bionian proto-mental life, inhabited by primitive and sensory ‘beta elements,’ is through alpha function transformed into pictograms, before becoming words. The session becomes a ‘theatre of dreams’, distributing its different characters drawn from the narrative fabric of the interpersonal field. Informed too by the analyst's reactive reveries, the field acquires its own alpha function. The book, Snell says, is as an invitation to enter Ferro’s consulting room, and it is a delight to accept.'

    Béatrice Ithier, Clinical psychologist, Psychoanalyst, Member of SPP/Paris, SPI/Pavia, IPA, Honorary Member of the Institute of Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, Warsaw,.Editor of En séance, au fil de l'affect et de l'émotion, Paris: Ithaque, 2023

    'The work of Antonino Ferro and the development of his notion of a co-created, dynamic, continuously evolving field has opened up our listening, enhanced our capacity for generating ‘an infinity of affective storylines’, and breathed fresh air into our consulting rooms. Moreover, it has made the writings of Bion much more clinically accessible. In this personal, moving and very absorbing book Robert Snell integrates Ferro's work over the years, creating a generative, evolving field between Bion, Ferro and himself. Snell's eloquent style of writing about complex psychoanalytical notions and phenomena is both inspiring and highly enriching, making for a very significant contribution to psychoanalytic practice.'

    Avner Bergstein, Israel Psychoanalytic Society, author of Bion and Meltzer's Expeditions into Unmapped Mental Life: Beyond the Spectrum in Psychoanalysis, London: Routledge, 2019

    'Antonino Ferro has made enormous and generous contributions to contemporary psychoanalysis, radically expanding on Bion’s ideas. He has profoundly revolutionized the field of psychoanalysis. Far from the stereotypical image of the psychoanalyst, Ferro privileges observation and respect, punctuated by a welcoming, astute, curious and human gaze. Field Theory is, in short, the systematization of this set of vertices. In Robert Snell’s book, written with great sensitivity, the reader can consistently enjoy Ferro’s ideas, in tune with his permanent presence and his unique voice at every step of the way.'

    Mércia Maranhão Fagundes, Pediatrician, Psychoanalyst, Child and Adolescent Psychoanalyst, Training and Supervising Analyst in the Brazilian Psychoanalytical Society of Ribeirão Preto-SP, Member of the Brazilian Psychoanalytical Society of São Paulo-SP

    'Robert Snell's remarkable book Antonino Ferro: A Contemporary Introduction, highlights the wisdom that springs from one of the most fertile of psychoanalytic minds. Snell dazzles us with the breadth of Ferro's knowledge and adroitness of his clinical experience and explores how historical and geographical circumstances have shaped Ferro's way of thinking and working. Snell’s creativity and generosity shine through these pages to illuminate, like a poet or a painter, prominent characteristics of Ferro's work like play and vitality, collaboration, the concept of the dynamic, interpersonal field, dream, the ontological rather than the epistemological (with Bion and Winnicott in the background), freshness of mind, immediacy and openness to the new, story-telling and a climate of hospitality in the analytic room. We are indebted to Robert Snell for having made available a masterpiece written with seeming ease in the most precise terms. This book can be considered a GPS to guide the reader to the heart of Antonino Ferro's work.'

    Jani Santamaría Linares PhD. Training and Supervising psychoanalyst of Children, Adolescents and Adults at the Mexican Psychoanalytic Association, Director of the A. Santamaría Psychoanalysis Mexico, Latin American Representative of the IPA, 2019-2023, member of the American Psychoanalytic Association. Co-author with Howard Levine of Autistic Phenomena and Unrepresented States: Explorations in the Emergence of Self. Phoenix 2023. Co-editor with Howard Levine, Bion Seminars at the A. Santamaría Association. Clinical and Theoretical Explorations, London: Routledge, forthcoming