What if analysts took steps to keep their analysands out of the hospital when they were beginning to breakdown? What would that look like? In Catch Them Before They Fall: The Psychoanalysis of Breakdown (Routledge, 2013), the eminent psychoanalyst Christopher Bollas, walks us through that process.
Beginning with his treatment of psychotic and manic depressive patients in the 1970s in London, Bollas sought to increase patients psychoanalytic sessions and to work with a team of psychiatrists and social workers who were analytically savvy. When these fragile patients disturbances became heightened, Bollas et co. worked in such a way that none of his patients needed to endure the shock and awe of hospitalization. Now, 40 years later, he has published a book that looks deeply into a way of working that confidently declares psychoanalysis to be THE treatment of choice for the person breaking down. By expanding sessions from five times a week to twice a day seven days a week or from morning to early evening, he discusses with us how breakdowns attended to in this way can become their antithesis: a breakthrough. He is passionate and as always, an intelligent maverick.
This interview promises to give analysts and analysands cause to pause regarding our relationship to the frame and the doing of business as usual. His belief in the human need to find a human other to hear us in our darkest moments, an other especially attuned to unconscious meanings, is convincing. For Bollas, being with a person breaking down demands we change our modus operandi. A breakdown is in a way an opportunity that can be dealt with by psychoanalytic means. To not attend to a breakdown is to put the analysand at risk of simply and devastatingly sealing over the elementary forces that brought the breakdown to the surface in the first place. Always thought provoking, in this interview Bollas weds theory and technique, expanding the reach of psychoanalysis with great creativity.