1st Edition

The Critique of Regression A Psychoanalytic Model of Irreversible Lifespan Development

By Gregory S. Rizzolo Copyright 2019
    240 Pages
    by Routledge

    238 Pages
    by Routledge

    The Critique of Regression presents the most in-depth critique of regression available in the psychoanalytic literature, whilst presenting the first psychoanalytic theory of irreversible lifespan development. The clinical implications are amply demonstrated in three chapter-length psychoanalytic cases. The most important implication is that when we revisit the past, in a private memory or in an analytic session, we remake it afresh in light of the present. The analysis of the past is always, in this sense, an exploration of the present.

    Gregory S. Rizzolo demonstrates that where we think we see returns, or regressions, to past stages of the lifespan, we in fact find the emergence of novel structures in subjective experience. Rizzolo considers the work of human development to be a work of mourning in which we lose, internalize and keep re-working the residue of a past to which we never return. The traditional notion of regression, which supports the fantasy of a literal return, operates as an intellectual defense against the mourning process. To critique the concept is to address the defense and to confront the loss of past relationships and of past versions of selfhood inherent in development. From the work of mourning emerge ever-new configurations of desire, defense and subjective meaning. The task of analysis is to cultivate, amidst the repetition of familiar patterns, the potential for novelty at play in each moment.

    This thought-provoking work will interest new and experienced psychoanalytic clinicians alike, who want to go beyond traditional theories of development to a contemporary look at how we develop inexorably across the lifespan.

    Introduction 1 The Defensive and Restorative Traditions 2 The Conservative and Radical Critiques 3 The Person as Agent 4 The Field of Deferred Action 5 The Life Cycle (without Regression) 6 The Specter of the Primitive 7 The Depth of the Present 8 The Case of John 9 The Case of Kyle 10 The Case of Travis Conclusion


    Gregory S. Rizzolo, is a faculty member at the Institute for Clinical Social Work in Chicago and an advanced candidate at the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis. His work has appeared in Psychoanalytic Psychology, the Psychoanalytic Study of the Child and the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. He maintains a private practice in Chicago, USA.

    "This is an exceptionally scholarly and thoughtful piece of work, with a highly sophisticated, logical, empirically incontestable frame. Rizzolo provides a helpful methodological guide for psychoanalytic conceptual research alongside an exciting innovative exploration of an area of significant controversy."-Peter Fonagy, Professor of Contemporary Psychoanalysis and Developmental Science, UCL, UK

    "This book is a thorough examination of the concept of regression and a persuasive critique. The case Rizzolo makes for a move to lateral shifts and the subtle transformations of lifelong development, rather than regression, is a well-worked and mature one, enhanced by the clinical material. I can see this being an influential and important book for some time to come."-Lewis Aron, Ph.D., Director, New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy & Psychoanalysis, USA

    "Gregory Rizzolo is an exciting voice from the next generation of psychoanalysts who are reexamining change over time, in our lives and through psychodynamic treatments. He challenges earlier views that conflate temporal and causal sequences of development, exposing biases inherent to those views of what is normal or pathological. Rizzolo examines key concepts through scholarly deconstruction of their assumptions, clearing away what is no longer useful and may in fact distort current practices---a critical step to ensure the evolution of our field."-Bonnie E. Litowitz, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief, Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association