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The Abyss of Madness
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Despite the many ways in which the so-called psychoses can become manifest, they are ultimately human events arising out of human contexts. As such, they can be understood in an intersubjective manner, removing the stigmatizing boundary between madness and sanity. Utilizing the post-Cartesian psychoanalytic approach of phenomenological contextualism, as well as almost 50 years of clinical experience, George Atwood presents detailed case studies depicting individuals in crisis and the successes and failures that occurred in their treatment. Topics range from depression to schizophrenia, bipolar disorder to dreams, dissociative states to suicidality. Throughout is an emphasis on the underlying essence of humanity demonstrated in even the most extreme cases of psychological and emotional disturbance, and both the surprising highs and tragic lows of the search for the inner truth of a life -- that of the analyst as well as the patient.
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Table of Contents

Psychotherapy Is a Human Science. Exploring the Abyss of Madness. Philosophy and Psychotherapy. Dreams and Delusions. The Unbearable and the Unsayable. The Tragedy of Self-destruction. The Dark Sun of Melancholia. What is a Ghost? Madness and Genius in Post-Cartesian Philosophy: A Distant Mirror.

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About the Author

George E. Atwood, Ph.D., is Professor of Clinical Psychology at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, USA. He is the author and co-author of numerous books, including Contexts of Being (Analytic Press, 1992), Faces in a Cloud (Jason Aronson, 1993), The Intersubjective Perspective (Jason Aronson, 1994), Working Intersubjectively (Analytic Press, 1997), and Worlds of Experience (Basic Books, 2002).

Reviews

"From the very beginning of his career, George Atwood has immersed himself in the world of madness, doing psychotherapy and psychoanalysis with the most difficult patients -- those suffering from psychoses, deep depressions, suicidality, and multiple self-states. He has a unique gift for both understanding and working effectively with such individuals, and this book -- primarily a series of case stories -- brings them alive as individual personalities, as well as showing his special talents as a therapist. Written in jargon-free, poetic, and highly accessible style, one feels as though one is in a comfortable room, talking with George as psychological difficulties are unraveled, meaning revealed, and terrible and painful histories lived through. There is profound knowledge in this book." - Louis Breger, Ph.D., author, Freud: Darkness in the Midst of Vision "At the heart of what is healing in psychotherapy lays a kind of humaneness, understanding, and compassion -- one that dissolves the centuries-long barrier between madness and sanity and neutralizes the pathologizing effects of traditional diagnosis. In this volume, George Atwood masterfully recasts the workings of the so-called psychoses and the associated emotional suffering into an insightful and humane understanding of how we experience ourselves and the world in the face of trauma, deprivation, and personal annihilation. Grounded in phenomenological contextualism, his lifelong theorizing and moving clinical narratives clearly reflect his humanity, accessibility, and contemporary clinical sensibility. Understanding madness not as an aberration and diagnosable disease, separate and estranged from what is presumed to be "normal," his work underscores how emotional suffering and seemingly intractable delusions result from relational contexts centered on traumatic loss and the absence of understanding, responsiveness, and human connection. This volume is as clinically profound and insightful as it is personally accessible and emotionally engaging. It is a must-read for all contemporary clinicians concerned with deepening their understanding of therapeutic action, regardless of their patient population." - William J. Coburn, Ph.D., Psy.D., Editor, International Journal of Psychoanalytic Self Psychology

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