Formless Infinity: Clinical Explorations of Matte Blanco and Bion, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Formless Infinity

Clinical Explorations of Matte Blanco and Bion, 1st Edition

By Riccardo Lombardi


266 pages

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In contemporary psychoanalysis, a key concept and aim of clinical practice is to distinguish the boundaries of any mental state. Without this boundary-setting, the patient has nothing but the 'formless infinite' of primitive mental states. Formless Infinity: Clinical Explorations of Matte Blanco and Bion draws on the work of these two authors to explore how analysts can work with patients to reveal, understand and ultimately contain their primitive mental states.

Riccardo Lombardi discusses the core concepts of the unconscious, the role of the body in analysis, time and death. He displays the clinical implications of Matte Blanco’s theoretical extension of Freud’s theory of the unconscious, presenting numerous clinical examples of working with psychosis and other severe pathologies. 

Formless Infinity, a stimulating teaching text for students, trainers and seasoned mental health practitioners, is essential reading for psychoanalysts and psychoanalytic psychotherapists. Itis particularly recommended to analysts interested in widening the scope of the analytic practice by exploring the functioning of the deep unconscious, primitive mental states, psychosomatic pathologies and psychotic conditions.


"From his experiences working with difficult to reach, sometimes catastrophically disturbed patients, Riccardo Lombardi has drawn insights than can enliven every psychoanalytic treatment. He has recaptured the spirit of creative adventure that characterized psychoanalysis at its beginning, and which offers the only hope for its future." - Owen Renik, Former Editor in Chief of the Psychoanalytic Quarterly and Program Chair of the American Psychoanalytic Association

"Lombardi writes with lucidity about the unconscious body, space, time, touch, hearing, smells, silence, psychosis and death from a grounded, clinical perspective. In one sense this book is a homage to the work of Matte-Blanco and Bion; but much more than this, it is an original contribution that will inspire any clinician working with severely disturbed persons." - Paul Williams, Joint Editor-in-Chief, International Journal of Psychoanalysis 2001-2007

"Riccardo Lombardi explores the psychoanalytic approach to psychosis from an original and creative perspective, that permits the reader to obtain a highly informative insight into the application of both Matte-Blanco and Bion. This volume represents a significant contribution to the psychoanalysis of psychosis, and should be of great interest to analysts dedicated to this frontier area." - Otto Kernberg, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, Weill Cornell Medical College, Director, Personality Disorders Institute, New York Presbyterian Hospital, Training and Supervising Analyst, Columbia Psychoanalytic Center, USA

Table of Contents

Introduction. Emotional Experience and Infinity.Symmetric Frenzy and Catastrophic Change: Bion and Matte Blanco. The Unfolding of the Unconscious Body. The Body Emerging from Formless Infinity. Body, Adolescence and Psychosis.Time in Primitive Mental States. Time, Music and Reverie. Stubborn Silences as ‘Playing Dead’. Death, Time and Psychosis.

About the Author

Riccardo Lombardi is a psychoanalyst, psychiatrist and doctor of medicine. He has a full-time private practice in Rome and teaches at the Roman Psychoanalytic Institute of the International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA). He is a Training and Supervising Analyst at the Italian Psychoanalytic Society.

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.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Movements / Psychoanalysis
PSYCHOLOGY / Mental Health