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Cracking Up


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Contents. Introduction. Communications of the Unconscious. A Separate Sense. Dissemination. Preoccupation unto Death. The Functions of History. What Is This Thing Called Self? The Structure of Evil. Cracking Up. References. Index.


Every day, according to British psychoanalyst Bollas, each of us experiences hundreds of intense moments when ordinary consciousness mingles with unconscious memories, bodily sensations and instinctual reactions. This process, he maintains, produces ``latent thoughts,'' or unconscious ideas, that give rise to dreams when we sleep. Bollas argues that the freely moving work of the unconscious is vital to our sense of self and to creativity. This erudite neo-Freudian study explores how each individual develops an idiom of the unconscious, a personal way of conveying one's inner experiences. Bollas (Being a Character) also examines how analysts, patients and ordinary people use free association to ``crack up'' or deconstruct dream events, trains of thought, layers of unconscious meaning. He isolates common structures of evil in murder, dictatorships, perverse sadomasochism and genocide, all of which involve ``psychic death'' and compartmentalization, or splitting off, of human qualities. Finally, Bollas provocatively argues that an adult's sense of humor derives from infancy, when the mother stimulates her baby to smile or laugh so as to transform misery into amusement. (May)

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