Antonino Ferro and Luca Nicoli
The New Analyst's Guide to the Galaxy
Questions about Contemporary Psychoanalysis
Karnac Books 2017
The “tongue in cheek” title of The New Analyst’s Guide to the Galaxy: Questions about Contemporary Psychoanalysis (Karnac Books, 2017), which references the hugely popular Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, hints at the playful and lighthearted tone of the conversation that unfolds between co-authors Luca Nicoli (the “new analyst”) and Antonino Ferro (the Guide) in this mildly irreverent but ultimately serious statement about the future of psychoanalysis. Nicoli is a recent graduate of an Italian institute, struggling to integrate his understanding of the time-honored, psychoanalytic writers that he studied in seminar with the revolutionary thinking of Antonino Ferro who argues that orthodoxy is a mortal threat to the vitality of psychoanalysis.
Antonino Ferro is the foremost spokesperson for a theory known as Bionian Field Theory. This theory blends Bionian conceptions (e.g. containing, beta and alpha elements, dreaming) with contemporary field theory (a way of understanding intersubjectivity) and Italian narratology (the analyst and patient pay attention to and develop the characters and scripts that appear in the field of the consulting room as a way of dreaming forward unprocessed emotional material).
In this podcast interview, young Dr. Nicoli, who considers himself a contemporary relational analyst, speaks about the difficulty, and perhaps impossibility, of integrating “standard” relational psychoanalysis with Bionian Field Theory. The book is not a theoretical essay, however, but records a series of questions that Nicoli poses to Ferro about clinical practice, as well as psychoanalytic education. For example, is it necessary for candidates to spend so much time reading Freud? Should analysts charge patients for cancelled sessions? Is the couch necessary? Ferro answers questions like these in light of his theoretical model, provocatively and humorously, but with a deeply grateful attitude for the dreams of our psychoanalytic ancestors.
Philip Lance, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist in private practice in Los Angeles. He is a candidate at The Psychoanalytic Center of California. He can be reached at PhilipJLance@gmail.com.