1st Edition

Uncertainties, Mysteries, Doubts Romanticism and the analytic attitude

By Robert Snell Copyright 2013
    232 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    230 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    What is it to listen? How do we hear? How do we allow meanings to emerge between each other?

    'This book is about what Freud called "freely" or "evenly suspended attention", a form of listening, a kind of receptive incomprehension, which is fundamental and mandatory for the practice of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy. The author steps outside the usual parameters of psychoanalytic writing and explores how works of art and literature which elicit and require such listening began to appear in Europe, in abundance, from the late eighteenth-century onwards.

    Uncertainties, Mysteries, Doubts is a timely reminder, in the present era of audit and manualisation, of some of psychoanalysis's deep and living cultural roots. It hopes- by immersing the reader in the emotional, critical and contextual worlds of some artists and poets of Romanticism- to help psychotherapists, psychoanalysts, and counsellors in the endless challenge of staying open to their clients and patients, faced as we all are, therapists and clients alike, by multiple pressures to knowledgeable closure.

    Introduction. Psychoanalysis and Romanticism: Crisis, Mourning and the Mysteries of the Ordinary. The 'Analytic Attitude': An Evocation and an Overview. Goya and the Dream of Enlightenment. Hölderlin, Novalis, Word Without End. Baudelaire and the Malaise of Modernity. Dr Noir, the Chevalier Dupin, and John Keats.Conclusion.


    Robert Snell is an analytic psychotherapist, a member of the London Centre for Psychotherapy, and an Honorary Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Therapeutic Education at Roehampton University. He has a doctorate in art history from the Courtauld Institute. He is the co-author, with Del Loewenthal, of Post-Modernism for Psychotherapists (2003).

    "In championing a Romantic psychoanalytic attitude, Robert Snell has given us a book whose effect is like that of a pebble in a pond: whatever attitude we bring of our own, questions and ever larger questions ripple out.  It will send us back to Baudelaire and the rest, invite us to bring alternative or additional texts and works of art – an invitation accepted in my own references to Swift and Pope – and in its Keatsian way teases us out of thought. It is a book to be read, reread and savoured." - Ken Robinson (Psychoanalyst, British Psychoanalytic Society), BJP, May 2014

    "Robert Snell is an analytic psychotherapist and his book is a timely reminder in these days of brief, economically driven therapy of the need to stay true to the basic psychoanalytic  stance of respecting the client by maintaining an ‘evenly suspended attention’ – an undirected, actively receptive listening that involves bearing not-knowing and not foreclosing." - Gillian Ingram, Therapy Today, May 2013

    "This is not an easy book. It is a book of immense scholarship and refined sensibility, and may be 'above the heads' of many wouldbe readers. But for those who are up to it, this is a real treat, treating us like the sophisticated adults we hopefully are." - John Rowan, ACP North London Magazine, May 2013

    "The book, thoughtful, erudite and accomplished, makes a real contribution to the psychoanalytic literature. Its writer has a double professional identity. As a psychotherapist, he focuses his interest here on the particular sort of open, intense therapeutic listening which is the fundamental and difficult basis of effective clinical practice." - Melanie Hart (Analytic Psychotherapist), LCP Reflections (London Centre for Psychotherapy 'Audiences with Authors', October 27th 2012)