Forces of Destiny : Psychoanalysis and Human Idiom book cover
1st Edition

Forces of Destiny
Psychoanalysis and Human Idiom

ISBN 9781138692008
Published August 22, 2018 by Routledge
184 Pages

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Book Description

Christopher Bollas is one of the most expressive and eloquent exponents of the ideas, meanings and experience of psychoanalysis currently writing. He has a real gift for taking the reader into the fine texture of the psychoanalytic process. Forces of Destiny examines and reflects on one of the most fundamental questions – what is it that is unique about us as individuals? How does it manifest itself in our personalities, our lives, relationships and in the psychoanalytic process?

Drawing on classical notions of ‘fate’ and ‘destiny’ and Winnicott’s idea of the true self, Bollas develops the concept of ‘the human idiom’ to explore and show how we work out – both creatively and in the process of analysis – the ‘dialectics of difference’. In particular he reflects on how the patients may use particular parts of the psychoanalyst’s personality to express their own idiom and destiny drive.

Forces of Destiny was Bollas’ second book. His first, The Shadow of the Object (1987), was described by the reviewer in the International Journal of Psycho-Analysis as a ‘unique and remarkable book. I think of it as one of the most interesting and important new books on psychoanalysis which I have read in the last decade.’ Forces of Destiny confirmed his position as one of the most important, thoughtful and engaging psychoanalytic writers. 

With a new preface from Christopher Bollas, Forces of Destiny remains a classic of psychoanalytic literature, appealing to psychoanalysts as well as readers in art history, literature, philosophy, and cultural studies.

Table of Contents

2018 Preface


Part One

1 A Theory for the True Self

2 The Destiny Drive

3 Off the Wall

4 The Psychoanalyst’s Celebration of the Analysand

5 The Psychoanalyst’s Multiple Function

Part Two

6 The Ghostline Personality

7 ‘Tripping’

8 The Anti-Narcissist

9 The Trauma of Incest

10 ‘Don’t Worry Your Father’

11 Historical Sets and the Conservative Process


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Christopher Bollas is a psychoanalyst and former professor of English. His last book was Meaning and Melancholia: Life in the Age of Bewilderment.


Praise for Christopher Bollas:

"One of the two most important living theoreticians in the world of psychoanalysis."-Al Haaretz

"The most influential psychoanalyst writing in English today."-The Townsend Center, University of California, Berkeley

"The most evocative psychoanalytic writer we have."-Adam Phillips