James Grotstein – Psychoanalytic ‘multilingualism’ - Deepstash

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James Grotstein

James Grotstein

Born in Ohio in 1925, James S Grotstein was an American psychiatrist and psychoanalyst.

He was a key figure in the introduction of Kleinian ideas to Californian psychoanalysis, and a passionate follower of Bion’s work. 

He possessed great enthusiasm for life, as well as a lively sense of humour, a keen habit of punning and playing with language, and a love of tennis.

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Psychoanalytic multilingualism

Psychoanalytic multilingualism

Grotstein’s defining characteristics was a passionate, sustained desire to link what, to others, might appear very different – even irreconcilable – conceptual strains.

“I myself am basically Kleinian – with a Bionian accent. I speak Winnicott and Fairbairn fluently, and Lacan less fluently. But I would never want to undertake an analysis without Kohut looking over my shoulder – as one of my highly treasured guides.”

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Klein and Bion Influence

Klein and Bion Influence

From his first encounter with Bion’s ideas, Grotstein was a committed advocate of his work. He went on to be both supervised and analysed by him for 6 years.

Grotstein himself was sometimes perplexed, though always enthralled, by Bion’s extensions of Kleinian and Freudian concepts. He was fascinated by Bion’s quite philosophical – indeed, spiritual – concept of ‘O’.

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Bion’s Concept of “O”

Bion’s Concept of “O”

Wilfred Bion's concept of O is his most mysterious idea, representing absolute truth and the mind necessary to apprehend it. 

It is also his most controversial idea, for it reflects infinite, unknowable, ultimate reality – all ideas that, like O, cannot be defined in logical terms.

In a way O is a more transcendent version of the Unconscious.

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Who Is the Dreamer, Who Dreams the Dream?

Who Is the Dreamer, Who Dreams the Dream?

In his book, “Who Is the Dreamer Who Dreams the Dream? A Study of Psychic Presences”, James Grotstein integrates some of his most important work of recent years in addressing fundamental questions of human psychology and spirituality.

He explores two quintessential and interrelated psychoanalytic problems:

〰️ the nature of the unconscious mind and 〰️ the meaning and inner structure of human subjectivity. 

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The Beginner’s Mindset

The Beginner’s Mindset

James Grotstein truly had, and never lost, the beginner’s attitude: he felt fascinated by what he was privileged to hear, see and think in relation to others. 

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T.S. ELIOT

We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.

T.S. ELIOT

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