Sublime Subjects: Aesthetic Experience and Intersubjectivity in Psychoanalysis, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Sublime Subjects

Aesthetic Experience and Intersubjectivity in Psychoanalysis, 1st Edition

By Giuseppe Civitarese


172 pages

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Sublime Subjects explores two fundamental questions: what is the start of humanity? When and how does a newborn child become a subject? These are relevant to psychoanalysis not only theoretically, but also in clinical practice, where the issue at stake is how to help the analysand’s mind to grow or, better, to increase the ability to give a meaning to experience.

Giuseppe Civitarese here argues that the psychoanalytic theory of sublimation and the aesthetic theory of the sublime are theories of subjectivation that can illuminate each other and give us a better understanding of the birth of the psyche. The aesthetic experience in art and in psychoanalytic practice are concerned with the social constitution of the individual, understood at its pre-reflective, non-verbal or inter-corporeal level. It is at this level that, thanks to the encounter with a receptive other, the turbulences of sensations and proto-emotions become soothing rhythms, proto-ideas or sensible ideas at first and, once words are added, concepts.

In Bionian terms, the at-one-ment between mother and baby is a form of primordial abstraction and occurs first in the dimension of the purely sensory and indistinct, and then in the affective space, which nonetheless is always a symbolic space if we take account that sociality is provided for the couple-system by the mother. It is exactly the intersubjective process of elevating toward conceptual thinking, but without ever detaching oneself from the thinking deposited in the body as procedural knowledge, that justifies the definition adopted here of human beings as Sublime Subjects.

This book explores these topics not only through the lens of the concept of sublimation or the theory of the sublime, but also through those of masochism, hypochondria, truth and two readings of classical Freudian papers such as the clinical case of Dora and ‘Formulations on the two principles of mental functioning’. Sublime Subjects will appeal to psychoanalysts and psychoanalytic psychotherapists, as well as literature and philosophy scholars.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1 Bion and the sublime: the origins of an aesthetic paradigm 2 On sublimation 3 Masochism and its rhythm 4 Whirlpools, rhythms, ideas: aesthetic experience and intersubjective constitution of the individual 5 Hypochondria and the politics of narcissism 6 Dora: The postscripts 7 Where does the reality principle begin?
The work of margins in Freud’s "Formulations on the two principles of mental functioning" 8 Truth as immediacy and unison: a new common ground in psychoanalysis? Commentaries on essays addressing "Is truth relevant?"

About the Author

Giuseppe Civitarese, MD, Ph.D., is a training and supervising analyst of the Italian Psychoanalytic Society (SPI). Previous work includes, The Intimate Room: Theory and Technique of the Analytic Field, The Violence of Emotions: Bion and post-Bionian Psychoanalysis, Truth and the Unconscious in Psychoanalysis and, as editor, Bion and Contemporary Psychoanalysis: Reading ‘A Memoir of the Future’.

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.

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Subject Categories

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