Nonlinear Psychoanalysis : Notes from Forty Years of Chaos and Complexity Theory book cover
1st Edition

Nonlinear Psychoanalysis
Notes from Forty Years of Chaos and Complexity Theory

ISBN 9780415508995
Published June 15, 2017 by Routledge
282 Pages 11 B/W Illustrations

USD $58.95

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Book Description

Nonlinear concepts from chaos theory, complexity studies, and fractal geometry have transformed the way we think about the mind. Nonlinear Psychoanalysis shows how nonlinear dynamics can be integrated with psychoanalytic thinking to shed new light on psychological development, therapeutic processes, and fundamental psychoanalytic concepts.

Starting with a personal history of the author’s engagement with nonlinear dynamics and psychoanalysis, this book describes how his approach applies to diagnosis of psychological conditions, concepts of normal and pathological development, gender, research methods, and finally the theory and practice of psychoanalysis and psychodynamic psychotherapy. This book is full of new ideas about the basic nonlinear processes of human development, nonlinear views of gender and fundamental psychoanalytic process like working through, and the nature of the therapeutic process as conceptualized in terms of the theory of coupled oscillators. Galatzer-Levy questions many standard psychoanalytic formulations and points to a freer practice of psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic thinking. His new approach opens the reader’s eyes to ways in which development and treatment can occur through processes not now included in standard psychoanalytic theory. The book not only provides useful theories but also helps readers take note of commonly passed over phenomena that were unseen for lack of a theory to explain them.

Galatzer-Levy brings an unusual combination of training in psychiatry, psychoanalysis, and mathematics to this unique study, which summarizes his forty years of exploration of nonlinearity and psychoanalysis. Nonlinear Psychoanalysis will appeal to psychoanalysts and psychotherapists as well as students of nonlinear dynamics systems.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Mathematics, Psychoanalysis and the Human Sciences

Chapter 1 A First Step – Qualitative Change from Quantitative Change:

Catastrophe Theory Psychoanalysis

Chapter 2 Characterizing Our Ignorance

Chapter 3 Chaotic Possibilities: Toward a New Model of Development

Chapter 4 An Example of Nonlinear Developmental Thinking

Chapter 5 Good Vibrations: Analytic Process as Coupled Oscillations

Chapter 6 Inexact Interpretations and Coupled Oscillators

Chapter 7 Prediction and Self Similarity

Chapter 8 Emergence

Chapter 9 On Working Through: A Model from Artificial Intelligence

Chapter 10 The Nonlinear Clinician at Work on the Edge of Chaos

Chapter 11 Afterwards and Forwards

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Robert M. Galatzer-Levy is a clinical professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at the University of Chicago and a faculty member of the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis. He practices child, adolescent, and adult psychoanalysis and psychiatry in Chicago.


"Whether as psychoanalysts or simply as human beings struggling to understand the course of our own lives, we easily mistake our underlying world view for reality itself. Galatzer-Levy’s book is a personal and stimulating look at how implicit assumptions about continuity, mechanism, and predictability color as well as limit analytic understanding. A larger and more variable universe emerges from the complex entwining of a mathematician’s curiosity with an analyst’s experience. The result is a surprising, often counterintuitive view of the nonlinear nature of mind, relationship, development, and healing."—Terry Marks-Tarlow, Ph.D., Core Faculty, Insight Center, Los Angeles; author, Psyche’s Veil; Clinical Intuition in Psychotherapy; Awakening Clinical Intuition.

"Robert Galatzer-Levy has written an extraordinary book with a new way of thinking about psychoanalysis. He uses an approach of non-linear systems theory and its dynamics to offer a new model which provides novel ways to understand how psychoanalysis works, how psychic change is possible and how new learning occurs. His critique of the psychoanalytic developmental paradigm from a non-linear point of view provides us with surprising new perspectives. Human development doesn’t primarily occur by epigenetic unfolding of predetermined developmental lines but by periods of relative disorganization. Reading this book with its innovative ideas one becomes more and more familiar with a non-linear worldview which alters one’s thinking about psychoanalysis and opens a wider landscape of analytic material."-Werner Bohleber, Ph.D., psychoanalyst, editor of the journal PSYCHE, author of Destructiveness, Intersubjectivity, and Trauma. The Identity Crisis of Modern Psychoanalysis.