Psychoanalysis and Anxiety: From Knowing to Being  book cover
1st Edition

Psychoanalysis and Anxiety: From Knowing to Being

ISBN 9780367152277
Published March 4, 2019 by Routledge
242 Pages

SAVE $14.09
was $46.95
USD $32.86

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

Psychoanalysis and Anxiety: From Knowing to Being combines psychoanalytic, existential and dramaturgical perspectives on the study of anxiety.

The book explores the implications for psychoanalysis of including a consideration of the being of the patient, and of the analyst. The central principle throughout is that the psychoanalytic and the existential belong together since it is the irreducible fact of anxiety that unifies them. It is in relation to anxiety that we are helped by other human beings to bear what is, and what we are.

Divided into four sections, the book begins with the distinction made in antiquity between anxiety and fear, before discussing its treatment by philosophers such as Heidegger, who regarded anxiety as the mood most disclosive of our being, and Kierkegaard, who distinguished between fear and angst. The book then explores how anxiety has been understood by major psychoanalytic theorists, including Freud, Klein, Winnicott and Bion, before a third part discusses how key principles of drama relate to therapeutic practice and theory, including a re-evaluation of the concept of catharsis, as well as Brecht’s concept of making strange the familiar. The pursuit of insightful knowledge in psychoanalysis is reconsidered in the book’s concluding section, with a shift of emphasis from psychoanalytic interpretations as statements of knowing to interpretive activity as a continuous process of becoming informed.

This insightful and wide-ranging volume will fascinate practising psychoanalysts and psychotherapists, anyone working in mental health, as well as scholars of philosophy and theatre.

Table of Contents


About the author

Foreword by Ronald Britton


 Anxiety: From the Ancient World to Ontological Philosophy

Chapter 1: Anxiety: Antiquity towards Modernity

Chapter 2: Heidegger: Care and the anxiety of being

 Anxiety and Psychoanalysis: Freud, Klein, Bion and Winnicott

Chapter 3: Anxiety, Communication and the Mind: Freud’s work of the specific action

Chapter 4: Melanie Klein: The primary projective process and two forms of anxiety

Chapter 5: W. R. Bion: The theory of a container to transform anxiety

Chapter 6: D. W. Winnicott and the being of the patient in analysis

 The Dramaturgical Dimension

Chapter 7: The Dramaturgical dimension I: Catharsis Revisited

Chapter 8: The Dramaturgical dimension II: Making Strange the Familiar

 Psychoanalytic understanding as becoming informed through Being

Chapter 9: From Knowing towards Being

Chapter 10: Becoming informed: Knowing from Being (O → K)

Chapter 11: On the difficulty for the analyst in being with the patient

Chapter 12: Recommendations on method



View More



Chris Mawson is a Training and Supervising Analyst of the British Psychoanalytical Society and works in private practice as a psychoanalyst. He is editor of The Complete Works of W. R. Bion (2014), with Francesca Bion as Consulting Editor.


"This is that rare thing that is a pleasure to discover – a text which manages to present important philosophical ideas in ways which are both challenging and accessible, and which in the process illuminates a significant area of clinical practice.

Chris Mawson has written a remarkably lucid and scholarly book which offers a much-needed bridge between psychoanalytic and existential formulations of anxiety. It will be required reading for anyone interested in contemporary psychoanalytic or existential therapy, not least because of its rigorous account of the common roots of both in the ancient world, and the engaging way in which it traces these influences down the centuries to the present day. This is a finely-crafted book which shines with veracity and knowledge – a joy to read and a valuable resource for all practitioners, regardless of their theoretical orientation, who are concerned to engage as fully as possible with those who consult with them.

Some of the material presented here will be familiar to existential therapists, but the comparisons between the work of, in particular, Heidegger and Bion provide enlightening and compelling new contributions to an understanding of the irreducible fact of anxiety which unifies both the psychoanalytic and existential communities. Mawson’s work promises to stimulate and provoke practitioners in equal measure. A ground-breaking book which deserves the widest possible readership." --Professor Simon du Plock, Metanoia Institute & Middlesex University, Editor, Existential Analysis

"Chris Mawson offers us a fascinating set of ideas that clarify and develop some of the fundamental theories of Klein and Bion. For example, he attempts to illuminate the meaning of Bion’s otherwise obscure recommendation to suspend memory and desire. He discusses the role of ‘intuition’ in understanding and responding to the patient, and the value of attending to ‘the world of the drama of internal relations’. In each case he brings a thoughtful and refreshing perspective to these areas, thereby enriching our clinical and theoretical perspectives." --Dr Michael Feldman, British Psychoanalytical Society and The Institute of Psychoanalysis

"When Chris Mawson and I met for the first time in 2016, he brought me the book ‘Transformations’ because of a question Bion asks on page 148 about ‘how to pass from "knowing" phenomena to "being" that which is "real"’ – a question which was just a puzzle for me at that time. In the meantime Chris Mawson has written a book which is dedicated to the legacy which is contained in this very question. It is an excellent book because its author is – as the Editor of the collected works of Bion – best suited not only for elucidating the shift of Bion’s thinking expressed in this question, but also, what is much more, for exploring and elaborating the consequences of this shift for psychoanalytic practice, especially for a new understanding of the analytic relationship (as a ‘being with’) and a new ‘indicative’ form of interpretation (which stems from ‘being informed-from-being’).

This book is also a model example for the rare capability of a psychoanalyst to feel free to look beyond their own psychoanalytic garden fence (namely towards existential philosophy for one thing and towards the field of drama for the other), but not as an end in itself, but as a necessary means for unfolding and answering Bion’s question in its deepness and complexity. What Chris Mawson has won by doing so he defines as ‘inspirations’. I am happy that some of my daseinsanalytic ideas were able to work in this way too." --Alice Holzhey-Kunz, Ph. D., President of the Society for Hermeneutic Anthropology and Daseinsanalysis, Zürich