Reviews - Carlo Bonomi psicologo Firenze

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of The Cut and the Building of Psychoanalysis, Vol 1: Sigmund Freud and Emma Eckstein, by Carlo Bonomi (London: Routledge, 2015; 275 pp.).
The following reviews are reported in this page:

Grigoris Maniadakis, International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 2015/24(4):254-257.
Jonathan Sklar,  Psychoanalysis and History, 2016/18: 278-282.
Michael B. Buchholz, Psyche – Zeitschrift für Psychoanalyse, 2016/70:363-366.
Anne Golomb Hoffman,  Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 2016/52(4):635-641.
Gianni Guasto, Pychiatry online Italia, 18 febbraio 2017,
Judith E. Vida, The American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 2017/77(1): 83-86.
Aleksandar Dimitrijevic, The American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 2017/77(1): 87-90.
Louis Rothschild, The American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 2017/77(1): 91-96.

Book review by Grigoris Maniadakis, International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 2015/4:254-257.

This book, the first of a two-volume work, aims, according to its author Carlo Bonomi, at constructing a more   integrated narration of the origins of psychoanalysis.   The idea of building, appearing in the title of the book already implies integrating, while the cut most probably refers to trauma and its aftermath.  Its subtitle (Sigmund Freud and Emma Eckstein) points towards a relationally oriented narration. The second volume of the  study will bear the subtitle Sigmund Freud  and Sandor Ferenczi.
Carlo Bonomi is a supervising analyst and a faculty member of the Postgraduate School of Psychotherapy at the Sullivan Institute in Florence.  He taught History of Psychology and Dynamic Psychiatry and is a former president of the Centre for historical studies of Psychoanalysis and Psychiatry. He is also founding president of the Sandor  Ferenczi cultural association and  an Associate Editor of this journal.
The book is based on decades of arduous research by the author  ( who has already published a book on part of his research). This research was spurred by his puzzlement on the lack of a credible narration of the origins of psychoanalysis; also by a fantasy he had that the entire psychoanalytic edifice rested on a catastrophic event related to real castration. The research led him to several findings, namely:  A. Castration of women and circumcision of children was an important if not dominant medical practice, for curing hysteria and masturbation in the second half of the 19th century. B. Freud most likely did not have his sons circumcised. C. One of the first women patients of Freud, Emma Eckstein, had most probably suffered the trauma of circumcision as a child. The questions emanating from the above findings form the basis of The Cut and the Building of Psychoanalysis. .... SEE MORE

Review BY Johathan Sklar,  Psychoanalysis and History, 2016/18: 278-282.

This is an impressive and complex book that investigates the origins of psychoanalysis from the interiority of Freud’s self analysis of his dreams, centred on Irma’s injection dream, and his then analysis of Emma Eckstein. Bonomi suggests that this dream discovery acts as a hinge between the pre-analytic world of Freud the medical doctor and paediatrician, and the founding of psychoanalysis around the hidden trauma of circumcision behind the analytic cornerstone of castration. During 1860–90 it was normal practice for hysteria to be treated by gynaecologists by means of various surgical procedures such as amputation or scarification of the clitoris, on sexually mature women as well as little girls, as well as removal of the ovaries, cauterization of the labia, infibulations and circumcision (Hegar, Broca, Bohmi, Forel, Schroder, Tissier, Brown, Brown-Sequard, Kromer, amongst many surgeons of the time). In 1887 Friedrich Merkel noted in his book Beitrag zur Casuitistik der Castration bei Neurosen (Contributions to the Study of Castration in the Neuroses) that in just a few months the number of operations reported in the medical literature rose from 180 to 215 and listed 35 papers on the subject of castration as the treatment for hysterical women (Merkel, 1887). Between 1850 and 1879 masturbation was treated surgically more frequently than any other measure (Spitz, 1952, p. 499). Such castration practices involved punishment for neurosis and hysteria and were undoubtedly traumatic, attacking the body, the mind and the functioning of sexual life. .... SEE MORE

Buchbesprechung (Review by) Michael B. Buchholz, Psyche – Zeitschrift für Psychoanalyse, 2016/70:363-366.

Bonomi legt den ersten Band eines Projekts vor, das aufschrecken konnte. In der Psyche 5/1999 hatte er darüber berichtet, wie Ferenczis angeblicher “geistiger Verfall” von Interessierten als Gerücht herbeigeredet wurde. Um den nachwirkenden Intrigen-Schaden ausheilen zu helfen, hatte Bonomi mit Bollas, Etchegoyen, Kernberg, Roudinesco, Anne-Marie Sandler und Wallerstein eine Initiative zum Ankauf von Ferenczis Haus in Budapest gestartet (, in dem er seine Patienten empfing und in dem das “klinische Tagebuch” geschrieben wurde. 2013 hat er einen großen Kongress zu Ferenczis Werk mitorganisiert und von ihm gelernt, dass man sich nicht in ausgetrampelten Pfaden der Tradition und Loyalitaten bewegen sollte, wenn man Interessantes entdecken will.
Ein erster Teil, “Medical context”, provoziert mit der Kapitel-Überschrift: “The castration of women and girls”. Die Beschneidung von Frauen im Wien Freuds war breit diskutierte Praxis, um hysterische Störungen zu “behandeln “. Lange Zeit dachten wir etwa so über die Ursprunge der Psychoanalyse: Freud habe in “splendid isolation” die sexuelle Ätiologie der Neurosen und die infantile Sexualität entdeckt, eine Entdeckung, die unter Verzicht auf die Verführungstheorie möglich wurde. Seine Selbst-Analyse galt als Ur-Tat eines einsamen Helden, mit der er Zugang zu einer neuen Psychologie fand. Einzig Wilhelm Fliess habe ihm beigestanden. Sexuelle Ätiologie, infantile Sexualität und Selbstanalyse bei der Entdeckung des Unbewussten – Bonomi wird mit dieser, von Jones in die Welt gesetzten Drei-Komponenten-Legende aufräumen. Die Realität weiblicher Kastration wurde verleugnet. ... SEE MORE

Book review by Anne Golomb Hoffman, Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 2016/52(4):635-641.

With this volume, Carlo Bonomi makes a significant contribution to the history of psychoanalysis. Highlighting medical practices categorized as circumcision and castration in girls and women, Bonomi asks us to consider their influence on Freud’s thinking in the 1880s and 1890s. Drawing on archival research, Bonomi argues for the likelihood that Emma Eckstein underwent this kind of surgery in childhood as a treatment for hysteria. Bonomi reads the Irma dream, the specimen dream of psychoanalysis, in light of this conclusion and finds evidence of the resonances of Eckstein’s childhood trauma in the complex play of identifications between doctor and patient that the dream contains.
With a focus on the years in which Freud carried out his self-analysis and began to formulate the ideas that would lead to the development of psychoanalysis as a treatment modality and a theory of mind, Bonomi argues for recognizing “(1) the generic impact of the castration of women and girls on Freud as a young medical doctor; (2) Freud’s private choice not to have his children circumcised; and (3) the specific emotional resonance on Freud as analyst of the genital trauma which Emma had endured as a child” (p. 6). Arguing that Freud took a “position against the practice of female castration as a cure for hysteric women” (p. 11), Bonomi’s offers a new reading of the Irma dream that takes into account Freud’s unconscious reaction to Emma’s childhood trauma. .... SEE MORE

Recensione di Gianni Guasto, Pychiatry online Italia, 18 febbraio 2017,

Questo libro è tanti libri. E’ un libro sul corpo ma anche un libro sull’anima. Tratta di storia della medicina ma anche di religione e di morale. Parla di fatti e fantasie di uomini e donne.  Si occupa di organi sessuali e della persona di Freud, riflettendo sul ruolo che una delle sue pazienti ricoprì nella prima teorizzazione e nella creazione della psicoanalisi. E’ allo stesso tempo uno studio scientifico e una narrazione letteraria”.
Questo è l’incipit di “The Cut and The Building of Psychoanalysis”, la nuova opera, divisa in due volumi, di Carlo Bonomi, che “rappresenta - secondo l’Autore- uno sforzo di costruire una narrazione più integrata delle origini della psicoanalisi”. E si vorrebbe aggiungere: più integrata perché meno reticente. Anzi, addirittura “archeologica”, appassionatamente rivolta a indagare i “buchi”, le impronte lasciate nel terreno dalle colonne scomparse, ancor più che i loro frammenti residui. ... LEGGI TUTTO
Review by Judith E. Vida, The American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 2017/77(1): 83-86.

This is the first of 2 metaphorically archeological volumes by the Italian psychoanalyst, Carlo Bonomi, who for decades has been digging beneath the foundational hagiographies of psychoanalysis.  The second, Volume 2: Sigmund Freud and Sándor Ferenczi is not yet available,  though there is an English précis of Volume I and a tantalizing table of contents of Volume 2 on Dr. Bonomi’s website. Although identified as Volume 65 of the Relational Perspectives Book Series, Volume I is not easily obtainable. The language of the text has some awkward usages and is occasionally garbled, which, along with some careless copy-editing, makes the whopping price something of a sore point.

But … so what? These comments morph into mere cavils when held up to the potent content of this whirlwind of scholarship, destined to forever alter your understanding of Sigmund Freud, the birth agonies of psychoanalysis, and the hitherto unacknowledged origins in trauma of the entire psychoanalytic enterprise. ... SEE MORE

Review by Aleksandar Dimitrijevic, The American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 2017/77(1): 87-90.

In the beginning, there was Paul Roazen and he spread light onto the psychoanalytic community deeply immersed in idolazing Freud. Then historiography of psychoanalysis started becoming more objective and accurate. The invaluable work of Henri Ellenberger was published; Frank Sulloway challenged most of the conceptions we held dear; Louis Breger and Peter L. Rudnytsky showed us clearly that Freud's troubled and unanalyzed personality frequently stood in the way to the further development of the scientific discipline he had founded. And then, upon reading Revolution in Mind by George Makari, I felt the field might be exhausted: the history of early psychoanalysis, it seemed to me, could not contain any further significant mysteries.
The Cut and the Building of Psychoanalysis. Volume 1, Sigmund Freud and Emma Eckstein disclosed all my naivety. Carlo Bonomi has managed not only to describe an extremely important mystery directly related to the origin of psychoanalysis and offer an elaborated account of it, but he also provided a most nuanced psychoanalytic reflection on the origin of this mystery itself. It was obvious from his previous work (e.g., his refutation of claims that Ferenczi was mentally disordered, published in 2004), that Bonomi's knowledge was vast and his thinking sharp. This time he presents results of more than two decades of research and thinking, which may end up to be nothing short of revolutionary.
Bonomi claims that the historiography of psychoanalysis suffers from “the disappearance of the context from its narration” (which “has served to turn the Freud enterprise into a myth” (p. 58)) and that this context is the then widespread “medical practice of the castration of women and circumcision of girls” (p. 58). And by “castration”, he does not mean a metaphor, or mental representation, or symbolic threat. ... SEE MORE

Review by Louis Rothschild, The American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 2017/77(1): 91-96.

Twelve black and white reproductions may be found in Carlo Bonomi’s The Cut and the building of Psychoanalysis, Volume 1:  Sigmund Freud and Emma Eckstein. One of these, The legend of the bishop and the devil, is a painting dated 1854 by Moritz von Schwind that depicts a devil carrying stones to build a chapel while a bishop prays at the chapel’s edifice. Bonomi reminds that at a meeting of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Association Freud spoke of identifying with the devil’s heavy lifting and rough work of laying stones for the psychoanalytic foundation, and that others, like the bishop had benefited.  Heavy lifting may be motivated by trauma (cf., Ferenczi, 1933/1980a), and may subsequently leave traumatic traces (cf., Bion 2015). This book works to further illuminate and contextualize traumatic marks that were previously dissociated. Bonomi’s portrait of Freud is one of a traumatized actor that feels similar to Bion in action during world war one. Bonomi’s scholarship creates an atmosphere in which the reader may feel how like Bion at war, Freud feels compelled to act heroically while simultaneously struggling with pronounced self-reproach. Bonomi’s capacity to think and dream through this psychoanalytic origin story has created a volume that is remarkable in regards to historiography and the sociology of psychoanalysis. Importantly,  Bonomi’s capacity to simultaneously be one who lifts heavy stones and one who benefits from what others have previously lifted has produced a significant contribution to our contemporary edifice that holds psychoanalytic praxis. ... SEE MORE
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