The Metapsychology of Christopher Bollas:
“Free Association and the Receptive Unconscious”
Speaker: Sarah Nettleton
This paper aims to provide a brief introduction to the work of Christopher Bollas, a pre-eminent figure in contemporary psychoanalytic thought. We shall begin by exploring his concept of the Receptive Unconscious, a theory of psychic structure and functioning that takes us beyond Freud’s repression-based model, to offer a way of thinking about the profound unconscious creativity implied by his dream theory. Bollas describes a mind that is founded upon associative processes, and we shall then link theory to practice by exploring his approach to the clinical technique of free association.
Sarah Nettleton is a psychoanalyst in private practice in London. Originally a musician, she has written on various aspects of music and the internal world, including the psychodynamics of musical giftedness. For the past 20 years she has specialised in the work of Christopher Bollas, giving seminars extensively in the UK and in Norway, France, Germany, Italy, Israel, Turkey, USA, Mexico, India and Ukraine. She is a visiting lecturer at the Israel Winnicott Centre, the Centro Winnicott in Rome, and the Chicago Centre for Psychoanalysis. Her book, The Metapsychology of Christopher Bollas: an Introduction, was published by Routledge in 2016. It has since been translated into Italian, Portuguese, French and Farsi.