Clinical Lessons on Life and Madness : Dostoevsky's Characters book cover
1st Edition

Clinical Lessons on Life and Madness
Dostoevsky's Characters

ISBN 9781138499560
Published October 29, 2018 by Routledge
252 Pages

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Book Description

The author of Clinical Lessons on Life and Madness: Dostoevsky’s Characters draws on Dostoevsky's universe to illuminate psychoanalytic theory and practice. Using Dostoevsky’s characters as case studies, the author discusses the various psychoanalytic concepts they embody, and shows how these insights can be applied to therapeutic understanding.


By considering the people who populate Dostoevsky’s world as personifying a whole spectrum of human possibilities and modes of relation, Heitor O'Dwyer de Macedo’s discussion of the characters – including those from Notes from Underground, Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov – allows him to explore fundamental issues constitutive of clinical practice, such as trauma, fantasy, perversion and madness.


Clinical Lessons on Life and Madness will provide an important resource for psychoanalysts with an interest in literature, as well as students of literature seeking a psychoanalytic interpretation.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents




Chapter 1 Notes from Underground

Chapter 2 Crime and Punishment

Chapter 3 The Double

Chapter 4 The Idiot

Chapter 5 Demons

Chapter 6 The Brothers Karamazov

Chapter 7 Women in Dostoyevsky’s Fiction

Chapter 8 The Grand Inquisitor



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Heitor O’Dwyer de Macedo is a French psychoanalyst and former theatre director of Brazilian origin, based in Paris. He has worked both in an institutional context, with psychotic patients, and in private practice.


Located in the space between the raw reality of treating psychosis and Dostoevsky’s powerful work, this book takes us to the intersection of unnamable anguish where the characters encounter the unconscious. Determined to delve into the spheres that Freud, focused on neurosis, left unexplored - trauma and madness - Heitor O’Dwyer de Macedo, with his love of literature and the acute perception of an exceptional clinician, takes us across zones filled with the cumbersome hatred of the dead, to show us that these zones can open unto love and desire. This book is essential for clinical practice, and will delight all those who find the unconscious endlessly fascinating.

Anna Angelopoulos, psychoanalyst, anthropologist, President of the Fédération des Ateliers de Psychanalyse (Federation of Psychoanalytic Workshops), Paris; renowned researcher in the oral tradition of storytelling.


In this book, psychoanalyst Heitor O’Dwyer de Macedo shows us that Dostoevsky, the  brilliant clinician, describes psychic processes that Freud would only formulate decades later. In simple language, de Macedo also points out that Dostoevsky’s novels deal essentially with the desire to establish vibrant relationships with others, without letting ideology replace lost religion.

 Michel Eltchaninoff, philosopher, editor in chief of Philosophie Magazine


With his considerable clinical experience and vast knowledge of literature, the author ponders the mysteries of the human soul as they are revealed by Dostoevsky. Psychoanalysis and literature are both enriched as a result. We have here what Sartre would call the work of a master.

Ronaldo Lima Lins, writer, professor emeritus of literature at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro