In fact, asserts the introduction, far from the clichéd closedness, rigidity and self-sufficiency which usually characterize the narcissist and the melancholic, on the contrary, here, for example in Butler’s queer melancholia, the process of incorporating alterity into self-definition – the drawing of an ambivalent other into the ego as a formative mechanism for the ego itself – this very mechanism signals a move to “modes of openness and not-knowing” and thus establishes the subject as a reflexive being.

The emphasis on the notion of ‘community’, as it is opposed to ‘society’, highlights not only a nostalgic melancholia for the mythical lost object of community, but also, alongside other ideas developed in the chapters which follow, the editors’ useful recovery of the idea of community as both an “interstitial and intermittent” space of (not-)belonging – as such evoking once again the in-betweenness in both space and time of those creatively unstable boundaries at the heart of identification.

The chapters themselves draw on different psychoanalytic traditions, from the contrasting of Kleinian and Freudian approaches to the social in Michael Rustin’s chapter, to a Lacanian take in Jay Watts’ attempt to resurrect and redeem the figure of the narcissist from its ‘neo-Laschian’ treatment (referring above all to Christopher Lasch’s well-known 1979 publication, The Culture of Narcissism), including a memorable mobilizing of Lacan’s mirror stage in relation to selfie culture.

 The reader is invited to explore the themes via literature and films – including David Fincher’s 1999 film, Fight Club in Lynn Layton’s chapter and John Krakauer’s 1996 book, Into the Wild in Derek Hook’s chapter – as well as through clinical case studies. For example, Dorothée Bonnigal-Katz’s powerful evocation of ‘the clinic of melancholia’ brings into focus the challenging clinical phenomena faced here by both analyst and analysand – a picture enriched by the author’s intricate discussion of metapsychological formulations including primary narcissism, the death drive and maternal omnipotence, explored also via the Oedipus and Medusa myths.