Reflections on the Aesthetic Experience: Psychoanalysis and the uncanny, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Reflections on the Aesthetic Experience

Psychoanalysis and the uncanny, 1st Edition

By Gregorio Kohon


176 pages

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Interest in the relationship between psychoanalysis and art - and other disciplines - is growing. In his new book Reflections on the Aesthetic: Psychoanalysis and the uncanny,Gregorio Kohon examines and reflects upon psychoanalytic understandings of estrangement, the Freudian notions of the uncanny and Nachträglichkeit, exploring how these are evoked in works of literature and art, and are present in our response to such works. Kohon provides close readings of and insights into the works of Franz Kafka, Jorge Luis Borges, Louise Bourgeois, Juan Muñoz, Anish Kapoor, Richard Serra, Edvard Munch, Kurt Schwitters, amongst others; the book also includes a chapter on the Warsaw Ghetto Monument and the counter-monument aesthetic movement in post-war Germany. Kohon shows how some works of art and literature represent something that otherwise eludes representation, and how psychoanalysis and the aesthetic share the task of making a representation of the unrepresentable.

Reflections on the Aesthetic is not an exercise in "applied" psychoanalysis; psychoanalysis and art are considered by the author in their own terms, allowing a new understanding of the aesthetic to emerge. Kohon’s book makes compelling reading for psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, art therapists, literary and art critics, academics, students and all those interested in the matter of the aesthetic.


"In this illuminating book, the highly esteemed British psychoanalyst Gregorio Kohon shares with the reader an internal dialogue between his own artistic intuition and his psychoanalytic insights. As we follow him through the text, we not only learn about the nature and function of the inherent inevitability of uncertainty, but we are challenged to embrace its creative potential." - Donald Campbell, Former President, British Psychoanalytic Society

"Through his narrative, Kohon evokes in the reader the very experience of uncanny that he describes in his deep engagement with the work of a number of artists and writers. The author reflects on how creativity may be expressed through negativity and incompleteness, a process that points to the "commonality of experience" between the aesthetics and psychoanalysis. This beautifully written book will be a marker in our understanding of the aesthetic experience."- Rosine Jozef Perelberg, PhD, Training Analyst and Fellow of the British Psychoanalytic Society and Visiting Professor, University College London

"This is a truly remarkable book. As Kohon delves more and more deeply into the aesthetic moment, what he encounters is not answers, but ever-expanding mystery, for mystery in all of its capacity to elicit fear and awe and confusion and the impulse to flee, and its ultimate resistance to representation, is what lies at the heart of human experience. It is a pleasure to accompany Kohon in his efforts to get to the core of what it is that makes a particular work of art, including moments in the art of psychoanalysis, the vibrant, compelling, disturbing events that they are." - Thomas H. Ogden, author most recently of Creative Readings: Essays on Seminal Analytic Works

"In this new book the psychoanalyst Gregorio Kohon makes a very personal contribution to the literature on art and psychoanalysis…This is a rich book – well researched and personally and culturally eloquent. The links between art and psychoanalysis are woven through the text. There could have been other artists included but this is Kohon’s selection; it is his story and because of that it is deeply meaningful. This book will be of interest to a very wide readership and I recommend it to anyone interested in the dual fields of art and psychoanalysis." - Joy Schaverien, author of Boarding School Syndrome for the Journal of Analytical Psychology.

Table of Contents

Griffiths, Foreword. Kohon, Acknowledgements. Considering the Uncanny. Louise Bourgeois and Franz Kafka: Of Lairs and Burrows. Kafka Meets Borges: From Geography to Temporality. Juan Muñoz and Anish Kapoor: Of Drums, Double Binds and Non-Objects. From Churches to Sculptures: The Matter of Time and the Work of Richard Serra. Edvard Munch’s vampires: The Effects of Nachträglichkeit. Monuments and Counter-Monuments: Willy Brandt in Front of the Past in Warsaw. The Broken Sequence of the Aesthetic: The Work of the Negative.

About the Author

Gregorio Kohon is a Training Analyst of the British Psychoanalytic Society. Besides his numerous psychoanalytic writings, Kohon has published four books of poetry in Spanish, and his novel Red Parrot, Wooden Leg was finalist for the Fernando Lara Prize, Planeta, Barcelona. His next book, Truco Gallo, is a collection of short stories (also in Spanish, co-authored with Mario Flecha and Viqui Rosenberg).

About the Series

The New Library of Psychoanalysis 'Beyond the Couch' Series

The New Library of Psychoanalysis aims to promote a widespread appreciation of psychoanalysis by supporting interdisciplinary dialogues with those working in the social sciences, the arts, medicine, psychology, psychotherapy, philosophy and with the general book reading public. The Beyond the Couch section of the series creates a forum dedicated to demonstrating this wider application of psychoanalytic ideas. These books written primarily by psychoanalysts, specifically address the important contribution of psychoanalysis to contemporary intellectual, social and scientific debate.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART / Criticism & Theory
LITERARY CRITICISM / Semiotics & Theory
PSYCHOLOGY / Movements / Psychoanalysis
PSYCHOLOGY / Mental Health