"Cracking Up illustrates well [Bollas'] impressive knack for mining theory and his own practice for insights and stories whose force does not depend on the reader's interest or belief in psychoanalysis....[his] recurring theme concerns the kind of unconscious communication between people that he sees as something common to the analytic process and ordinary life."
"Like a good clowning mother, a good psychoanalyst has an 'unconscious sense of timing' and the intuitive abililty to 'crack us up.' The analyst 'cracks up' the patient's internal narrative by making interpretations, clearing the way for new thoughts."
From the Publisher
The distinguished psychoanalyst Christopher Bollas here extends his exploration of the inner world of human experience. Taking Freud's vision of the dream process as a model for all unconscious mental experience, he suggests that the rhythm of that experience - in which we respond to everyday moments of psychic intensity by breaking them up into their constituent factors (remembered, bodily, instinctual) that we then recombine in a new understanding - is vital to individual creativity and freedom. Bollas examines how we learn the rhythmic idioms of each other's unconscious lives, and he considers the consequences when traumas inhibit the freedom to do this. He studies what we mean by the past: is it ominously unchangeable, or can history be a creative, open understanding of experience? In a disturbing analysis of the unfree patterns of a serial killer, Bollas shows how evil may derive from moments in which a person has felt betrayed, with feelings that are brought under control by subjecting victims to traumatic reenactments of the pain. In conclusion, and by way of sunny contrast, Bollas argues that humor and ribald play - the times when we crack up - give us special wisdom and pleasure. His finale, a brilliant summary of his chief themes, offers a fitting, ironic end to this wide-ranging exploration of the measures of man.