1st Edition

Catch Them Before They Fall: The Psychoanalysis of Breakdown

By Christopher Bollas Copyright 2013
    152 Pages
    by Routledge

    152 Pages
    by Routledge

    In this exploration of a radical approach to the psychoanalytical treatment of people on the verge of mental breakdown, Christopher Bollas offers a new and courageous clinical paradigm.

    He suggests that the unconscious purpose of breakdown is to present the self to the other for transformative understanding; to have its core distress met and understood directly. If caught in time, a breakdown can become a breakthrough. It is an event imbued with the most profound personal significance, but it requires deep understanding if its meaning is to be released to its transformative potential.

    Bollas believes that hospitalization, intensive medication and CBT/DBT all negate this opportunity, and he proposes that many of these patients should instead be offered extended, intensive psychoanalysis.

    This book will be of interest to clinicians who find that, with patients on the verge of breakdown, conventional psychoanalytical work is insufficient to meet the emerging crisis. However, Bollas’s challenging proposal will provoke many questions and in the final section of the book some of these are raised by Sacha Bollas and presented in a question-and-answer form.

    Introduction. Broken Selves. Signs of Breakdown. Guidelines. Emily. Anna. Mark. Histories and the Apres Coup.Time. Emotional Experience. Reflection, Explanation and Working Through.Psychic Change. Conclusion. Questions.


    Christopher Bollas, PhD, is a psychoanalyst practising in London.

    Sacha Bollas, PsyD, is a psychologist practising in Los Angeles.

    "Dr. Christopher Bollas’s work has once more opened an important clinical vista within contemporary psychoanalytic praxis. Known for his evocative approach to the clinical process, that is his unique conceptualization of various experiences of self, Bollas provides us with another view into understanding the various vertices inherent in treating "breakdown" in "broken selves"...Bollas’s book has made our future work more hopeful and as such serves as our lucid object." – Loray Daws, psychoanalytic psychotherapist, contemporarypsychotherapy.org

    "In yet another radical configuration of theory and practice, Christopher Bollas confirms his position as (at the very least) one of the most original thinkers in psychoanalysis today. Catch Them Before They Fall outlines a reasoned and strikingly humane way of working with those analytic patients who are in the throes of an acute breakdown of their existing defence structures." – Jean White, Guild of Psychotherapists, London, The British Journal of Psychotherapy

    "Catch Them Before They Fall outlines a model of treatment based on providing extended sessions to clients on the verge of breakdown. Intended specifically for fellow psychoanalysts who are unsure about how to navigate breakdown, Bollas uses his professional experience to assert that breakdowns are driven by unconscious psychological processes, while providing the field with a refreshingly optimistic view on the psychoanalytical process and shedding light on the hidden transformative potential behind breakdowns." – Julie Y. A. Cachia, New York University, International Journal of Psychotherapy