Belief and Imagination: Explorations in Psychoanalysis, 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

Belief and Imagination

Explorations in Psychoanalysis, 1st Edition

By Ronald Britton


240 pages

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Winner of the 2013 Sigourney Award!

Belief and Imagination brings together Ronald Britton's writing on these subjects over the last 15 years, exploring the concepts from a Kleinian perspective. The book covers:

  • The status of phantasies in an individuals mind - are they facts or possibilities?
  • How the notions of objectivity and subjectivity are interrelated and have their origins in the Oedipal triangle
  • How phantasies which are held to be products of the imagination, can be accounted for in psychoanalytic terms.

Britton also examines the relationship between psychic reality and fictional writing, and the ways in which belief, imagination and reality are explored in the works of Wordsworth, Rilke, Milton and Blake.


'Belief and Imagination is a pleasure to read and a reward to study. It confirms the author's status as one of the foremost contributors to modern psychoanalytic theory and practice. It is a clear and insightful book rich in clinical, theoretical, and applied psychoanalytic wisdom, and should be a valuable addition to the library of any psychoanalyst.' - Howard Levine, Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, Vol. 50, No. 3, 2002

'[this book] is in my view both traditional and revolutionary… In the tradition of the post Kleinians, Ronald Britton in Belief and Imagination breaks new ground.' - Marilyn Lawrence, Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, Vol. 14, No. 1, 2000

'Many book reviews end with a recommendation to read or to buy the book. In this case a recommendation is not enough. This book is essential reading for anyone wanting to keep psychoanalytic thought alive and well.' - Dr Anton Obholzer

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements. Introduction. Belief and Psychic Reality. Naming and Containing. Oedipus in the Depressive Position. Subjectivity, Objectivity and Triangular Space. The Suspension of Belief and the 'As-if' Syndrome. Before and After the Depressive Position. Complacency in Analysis and Everyday Life. The Analust's Intuition: Selected Fact or Overvalued Idea? Daydream, Phantasy and Fiction. The Other Room and Poetic Space. Wordsworth: The Loss of Presence and the Presence of Loss. Existential Anxiety: Rilke's Duino Elegies. Milton's Destructive Narcissist or Blake's True Self? William Blake and Epistemic Narcissism. Publication Anxiety. References. Index.

About the Author

Ronald Britton is a psychoanalyst in private practice in London, and a training and supervising analyst of the British Psychoanalytical Association.

About the Series

The New Library of Psychoanalysis

The New Library of Psychoanalysis is published by Routledge Mental Health in association with the Institute of Psychoanalysis, London.

Its purpose is to facilitate a greater and more widespread appreciation of psychoanalysis and to provide a forum for increasing mutual understanding between psychoanalysts and those in other disciplines. The series also aims to make some of the work of continental and other non-English speaking analysts more readily available to English-speaking readers, and to increase the interchange of ideas between British and American analysts.

The New Library of Psychoanalysis published its first book in 1987 under the editorship of David Tuckett, later followed by Elizabeth Bott Spillius, Susan Budd and Dana Birksted-Breen. A considerable number of Associate Editors and readers have assisted the editors.

Under the guidance of Foreign Rights Editors, a considerable number of the New Library books have been published abroad, particularly in Brazil, Germany, France, Italy, Peru, Spain and Japan.

The aim of the New Library of Psychoanalysis is to maintain the high level of scholarship of the previous series, to provide a forum for increasing understanding between psychoanalysis and other disciplines and to increase the interest of the general book-reading public in psychoanalysis.

The New Library of Psychoanalysis also aims to help the various schools of psychoanalysis to better understand each other. It has published books representing all three schools of thought in British psychoanalysis, including a particularly important work edited by Pearl King and Riccardo Steiner, expounding the intellectual and organisational controversies that developed in the British psychoanalytical Society between Kleinian, Viennese and 'middle group' analysts during the Second World War.

The New Library of Psychoanalysis has also translated and published several books by Continental psychoanalysts, and it plans in the future to continue the policy of publishing books that express as clearly as possible a variety of psychoanalytic points of view.

Learn more…

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