The Emergence of Analytic Oneness: Into the Heart of Psychoanalysis, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Emergence of Analytic Oneness

Into the Heart of Psychoanalysis, 1st Edition

By Ofra Eshel


320 pages

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The Emergence of Analytic Oneness is a profound and penetrating exploration of a fundamental dimension of analytic presence and patient–analyst interconnectedness that offers new possibilities for extending the reach of psychoanalytic treatment and working with some of the most difficult treatment situations.

Eshel listens with a 'hearing heart' and gives herself over to being within the patient’s experiential world and the grip of the unfolding analytic process. She has gone with her patients into black holes, dissociation, deadness, sleepiness, petrifaction, silence, longings, the depths of perversion, and the enigmas of telepathic dreams, while experiencing the emergence of patient–analyst two-in-oneness, with its challenges and mysteries. Drawing on Winnicott’s posthumous writings and Bion’s late work and going beyond recent analytic notions of intersubjectivity and witnessing to interconnectedness and 'withnessing,' Eshel offers her own understanding of at-one-ment or "being-in-oneness" with the patient’s emotional reality as the only state of analytic being that can meet and transform core unthinkable breakdown and mental catastrophe. The critical question here is to what extent the analyst is willing and able to open the boundaries of his or her psyche to the patient, especially in difficult, unbearable and devastated-devastating states.

Eshel’s clinical narratives are detailed, intense, theoretically grounded, and very moving. The Emergence of Analytic Oneness will be an invaluable guide for psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, and students in these fields who want to extend their reach into deeper levels of disturbance in the difficult clinical work they do.


'In her beautifully written book, The Emergence of Analytic Oneness: Into the Heart of Psychoanalysis, Ofra Eshel offers a radical change in the way we conceive of the analytic endeavor, a change that opens new possibilities for everyone engaged in the life-long process of becoming a psychotherapist. She discusses and clinically illustrates what it is to be there with the patient so thoroughly that a new subjective entity and depth of experiencing emerges, an experiential process she calls "withnessing." The book is a tour de force of cutting-edge psychoanalytic theory and practice, which is particularly valuable in work with severely disturbed patients.'-Thomas Ogden, author of Reclaiming Unlived Life and Creative Readings: Essays on Seminal Analytic Works

'This is a very special book you will not want to miss. If you ever wanted to learn more about psychoanalysis and psychotherapy or experience fuller appreciation of how they work, this book serves as a fusion of Virgil and Beatrice as guides. Just as you think you can't go any further, more opens, wave after wave of psychic vision and reality. Depth psychology transforms as you read and your sense of being shifts with it. Psychoanalysis enters a new age, a further age. Whatever your viewpoint or practice, you will appreciate many new beginnings as windows of experience appear out of nowhere and beg you to open them.'-Michael Eigen, Ph.D., author of The Challenge of Being Human and Contact with the Depths 

'This comprehensive work reflects Dr. Ofra Eshel’s many years of clinical focus on the need for a deep sense of oneness with the patient, which she feels is a paradigm shift in psychoanalysis brought about by Winnicott’s work and the late work of Bion. The book includes powerful clinical descriptions of psychoanalytic work with severe early loss and trauma, breakdowns of the emerging self, and "Black Holes" in the interpersonal psychic space. The Emergence of Analytic Oneness: Into the Heart of Psychoanalysis, stands out in its clear description of Bion’s idea of at-one-ment with the patient, and the necessity of accompanying the patient into these painful depths. This scholarly book will speak to psychoanalysts and psychotherapists interested in learning about the early frontiers of the self, and Eshel’s openness to these painful states of mind is an important guide to the kind of work necessary in psychoanalysis of the 21st century.'-Annie Reiner, author, Bion And Being: Passion and the Creative Mind; Of Things Invisible to Mortal Sight: Celebrating the Work of James S. Grotstein (Editor), Los Angeles

Table of Contents

Introduction On the Emergence of Analytic Oneness: Challenges and Mysteries

Part I: Within the Depths of Being: Experiences in a new dimension

Chapter One The Heart. Or, what’s heart got to do with It?

Chapter Two Two-in-Oneness: Transformations in O

Chapter Three Into the Depths of a "Black Hole" and Deadness

Chapter Four Whose Sleep Is It, Anyway?

Chapter Five A Beam of ‘Chimeric’ Darkness: Presence, interconnectedness, and transformation in the treatment of a patient convicted of sex offenses

Chapter Six Where Are You, My Beloved? On absence, loss, and the enigma of telepathic dreams

Chapter Seven Pentheus Rather Than Oedipus: On perversion, survival, and analytic presencing

Part II: The "Voice" of Breakdown


Chapter Eight ‘For You Have Returned My Soul Within Me with Compassion’: ‘Presencing,’ passion, and compassion in the depths of perversion, breakdown, despair, and deadness

Chapter Nine The ‘Voice’ of Breakdown: On facing the unbearable traumatic experience in psychoanalytic work

Chapter Ten From Extension to Revolutionary Change in Clinical Psychoanalysis: The radical influence of Bion and Winnicott

About the Author

Ofra Eshel is a faculty member, training and supervising analyst of the Israel Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, and member of the International Psychoanalytical Association (IPA); vice-president of the International Winnicott Association (IWA); founder and head of the postgraduate track "Independent Psychoanalysis: Radical Breakthroughs" at the advanced studies of the Program of Psychotherapy, Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University. Her papers have been published in psychoanalytic journals and books and presented in national and international conferences all over the world. She is in private practice in Tel Aviv, Israel.

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 / Mental Health