Minding the Body: The body in psychoanalysis and beyond, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Minding the Body

The body in psychoanalysis and beyond, 1st Edition

By Alessandra Lemma


182 pages

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pub: 2014-08-18
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Minding the Body: The Body in Psychoanalysis and Beyond outlines the value of a psychoanalytic approach to understanding the body and its vicissitudes and for addressing these in the context of psychoanalytic psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. The chapters cover a broad but esoteric range of subjects that are not often discussed within psychoanalysis such as the function of breast augmentation surgery, the psychic origins of hair, the use made of the analyst’s toilet, transsexuality and the connection between dermatological conditions and necrophilic fantasies. The book also reaches ‘beyond the couch’ to consider the nature of reality television makeover show.

The book is based on the Alessandra Lemma’s extensive clinical experience as a psychoanalyst and psychologist working in a range of public and private health care settings with patients for whom the body is the primary presenting problem or who have made unconscious use of the body to communicate their psychic pain. Minding the Body draws on detailed clinical examples that vividly illustrate how the author approaches these clinical presentations in the consulting room and, as such, provides insights to the practicing clinician that will support their attempts at formulating patients’ difficulties psychoanalytically and for how to helps such patients. It will be essential reading for psychoanalysts, psychologists, psychiatrists, mental health workers, academics and literary readers interested in the body, sexuality and gender.


‘Lemma has become one of the modern leaders in psychoanalysis. Her contribution to understanding this most fundamental of psychoanalytic concerns – our relationship to our bodies – has been immense and is growing. This book is an essential source of inspiration for clinicians to help them listen to and hear their patients’ deepest concerns more clearly. An extraordinary achievement.’– Peter Fonagy, Freud Memorial Professor of Psychoanalysis and Head of the Research Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology, University College London, UK

‘In this insightful and innovative book Alessandra Lemma revisits and explores further some of the subjects she considered in Under the Skin…. The author is at her fluent best as she examines how we ascribe meaning to experience through our bodies, and attempts to illustrate how the analyst can help patients re-integrate mind and body… This is an innovative approach to a fascinating subject. I defy any book browser to peruse its tantalising chapter titles and not want to read the whole book. Minding the Body is a must read.’ – Antonino Ferro, President of the Italian Psychoanalytic Society and Consultant Associate Editor of the International Journal of Psychoanalysis. He is a training and supervising analyst in the Italian Psychoanalytic Society, the American Psychoanalytic Association and the International Psychoanalytical Association.

Table of Contents

Campbell, Preface. Introduction When the Body Speaks. Envy and the Maternal Body: The Psychodynamics of Cosmetic Surgery. Whose Skin is it Anyway? Some Reflections on the Psychic Function of Necrophilic Fantasies. An Order of Pure Decision: Growing up in a Virtual World and the Adolescent's Experience of Being-in-a-Body. Present Without Past: The Disruption of Temporal Integration in a Case of Transsexuality. The Body One Has and the Body One is: The Transsexual’s Need to be Seen. Trauma and the Body: A psychoanalytic Reading of Almodóvar’s The Skin I Live In. The Body of the Analyst and the Analytic Setting: Reflections on the Embodied Setting and the Symbiotic Transference. Rapunzel Revisited: Untangling the Unconscious Meaning of Hair. Off the Couch, Into the Toilet: Exploring the Psychic Uses of the Analyst’s Toilet. Entrepreneurs of the Self: Some Psychoanalytic Reflections on the Psychic and Social Functions of Reality TV Makeover Shows.

About the Author

Alessandra Lemma is Director of the Psychological Therapies Development Unit at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust. She is a Consultant Adult Psychotherapist at the Portman Clinic. She is also a Fellow of the British Psychoanalytical Society, Visiting Professor in the Psychoanalysis Unit at University College London and Honorary Professor of Psychological Therapies in the School of Health and Human Sciences at Essex University. She is the Clinical Director of the Psychological Interventions Research Centre at UCL, Visiting Professor at Istituto Winnicott, Sapienza University of Rome and Centro Winnicot, Rome. Professor Lemma is Editor of the New Library of Psychoanalysis book series (Routledge) and one of the regional editors for the International Journal of Psychoanalysis. She has published extensively on psychoanalysis, the body and trauma.

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…

Subject Categories

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