On the Lyricism of the Mind: Psychoanalysis and literature, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

On the Lyricism of the Mind

Psychoanalysis and literature, 1st Edition

By Dana Amir


100 pages

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On the Lyricism of the Mind: Psychoanalysis and Literature explores the lyrical dimension (or the lyricism) of the psychic space. It is not presented as an artistic disposition, but rather as a universal psychic quality which enables the recovery and recuperation of the self. The specific nature of human lyricism is defined as the interaction as well as the integration of two psychic modes of experience originally defined by the psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion: The emergent and the continuous principles of the self.

Dana Amir elaborates Bion's general notion of an interaction between the emergent and the continuous principles of the self, offering a discussion of the specific function of each principle and of the significance of the various types of interaction between them as the basis for mental health or pathology. The author applies these theoretical notions in her analytic work by means of literary illustrations showing how the lyrical dimension may be used to teach psychoanalytic readings of literature and explore the connection between psychoanalytic and literary languages.

On the Lyricism of the Mind presents a new psychoanalytic understanding of the capacity to heal, to grieve, to love and to know, using literary illustrations but also literary language in order to extract a new formulation out of the classic psychoanalytic language of Winnicott and Bion. This book will appear to a wide audience to include psychoanalysts, psychotherapists and art therapists.  It is also extremely relevant to literary scholars, including students of literary criticism, philosophers of language and philosophers of mind, novelists, poets, and to the wide educated readership in general.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Bion, Winnicott, and the Lyrical Dimension of the Potential Space

Chapter 2: The Emergent, the Continuous and the Lyrical

Chapter 3: The Philosophical and Human Meaning of the Lyrical Dimension

Chapter 4: The Emergent Self and the Continuous Self in the Mirror of Development

Chapter 5: Asleep with all Five Senses Awake: Octavio Paz's "As One Listens to the Rain" as an Illustration of the Interrelations between the Emergent and the Continuous Principles of the self

Chapter 6: The Influence of the Interaction between the Continuous Self and the Emergent Self on the Development of the Schizoid and the Borderline Personalities

Chapter 7: Attacks on Linking as Attacks on the Formation of the Lyrical Dimension

Chapter 8: The Line that Divides Sleeping from Waking: The Malignant Interaction between the Emergent Principle and the Continuous Principle in My Michael by Amos Oz

Chapter 9: Melancholia as Mourning over a Possible Object

Chapter 10: From the Earthly Jerusalem to the Heavenly City: The lyrical Dimension of Mourning in A.B. Yehoshua's novella A Woman in Jerusalem

Chapter 11: On Lyricism, Knowing and Love

About the Author

Dr Dana Amir is a clinical psychologist, supervising-analyst at the Israel Psychoanalytic Society, poetess and literature researcher and a faculty member of Haifa University. She is the author of five poetry books and two psychoanalytic non-fiction books, and the winner of the Adler National Poetry Prize (1993); the Bahat Prize for Academic Original Book (2006); the Frances Tustin International Memorial Prize (2011); the Prime-Minister Prize for Hebrew Writers (2012); the IPA (International Psychoanalytic Association) Sacerdoti Prize (2013); the Nathan Alterman poetry price (2013) and the Distinguished Psychoanalytic Educators Award (IFPE).

About the Series

Psychoanalysis in a New Key Book Series

When music is played in a new key, the melody does not change, but the notes that make up the composition do: change in the context of continuity, continuity that perseveres through change. Psychoanalysis in a New Key publishes books that share the aims psychoanalysts have always had, but that approach them differently. The books in the series are not expected to advance any particular theoretical agenda, although to this date most have been written by analysts from the Interpersonal and Relational orientations.

The most important contribution of a psychoanalytic book is the communication of something that nudges the reader’s grasp of clinical theory and practice in an unexpected direction. Psychoanalysis in a New Key creates a deliberate focus on innovative and unsettling clinical thinking. Because that kind of thinking is encouraged by exploration of the sometimes surprising contributions to psychoanalysis of ideas and findings from other fields, Psychoanalysis in a New Key particularly encourages interdisciplinary studies. Books in the series have married psychoanalysis with dissociation, trauma theory, sociology, and criminology. The series is open to the consideration of studies examining the relationship between psychoanalysis and any other field – for instance, biology, literary and art criticism, philosophy, systems theory, anthropology, and political theory.

But innovation also takes place within the boundaries of psychoanalysis, and Psychoanalysis in a New Key therefore also presents work that reformulates thought and practice without leaving the precincts of the field. Books in the series focus, for example, on the significance of personal values in psychoanalytic practice, on the complex interrelationship between the analyst’s clinical work and personal life, on the consequences for the clinical situation when patient and analyst are from different cultures, and on the need for psychoanalysts to accept the degree to which they knowingly satisfy their own wishes during treatment hours, often to the patient’s detriment.

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Subject Categories

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