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Chapter Six: Travelling Light

Ferro, Antonino; Nicoli,Luca Karnac Books ePub

CHAPTER SIX

Travelling light

So, since we have to travel a long way, and most importantly with a light luggage, let's at least try to choose it carefully. In our articles there are a few successful concepts that, by dint of being used a lot, end up being used all the time. Sometimes they become master keys that can open any door. The concept of reverie, so poetic and evocative, lends itself to this fate. “And then I had a reverie!”, as if it was an epiphany. What is it exactly?

I would start from what Grotstein says when he explains that the concept comes from Bion, but then spread like wildfire across all conceptualisations of psychoanalysis, so it is one of those umbrella concepts that after a while could mean everything and its opposite, sort of like the term “projective identification”, so we can't understand each other. I would favour an extremely restrictive use of the concept. Let's first try to describe it clinically, then let's see its theoretical origin. Clinically I think it is when in the mind of an analyst, in the consulting room—we're retreading what we said about the analyst only existing when he also has a patient in a setting—an image presents itself insistently and annoyingly. These are the two important features: insistent and grating. It is something that at first disturbs the analyst: he wonders why it crosses his mind, he tries to get rid of it because it's annoying, because it interferes with that state of mind in which one is ready to listen, with a receptive state, it is something that really imposes itself on the analyst. And this image that imposes itself is usually something that has to do with the analytic situation in which one finds himself. Let's take a very simple example, which I have already discussed elsewhere: while I was with a patient, at some point the image of a sailing ship, one of those miniature ones inside a bottle, started coming to my mind—or to impose itself, I would say. I tried driving this image out because it was disturbing until, after the second and then the third time it returned to my mind, I resigned myself: “Oh well, I cannot drive it away, this image, surely it must mean something.” Here, only when I accepted this, was I able to reflect on it; it seemed clear to me that this image was a picture of a situation experienced within the analysis and that it basically depicted a situation of impasse. In a situation where there is a sailing ship inside a bottle you do not travel. It represented one of those situations pictured by Conrad,1 when he described the situation in which the ship finds itself when there is no wind, motionless in a state of dead calm, without going anywhere. Reflecting on that image, something that I did not previously know became clear to me, that is, that I had not realised we actually were in a stalemate in the analytic situation, we were in a situation of impasse. This is very different from the metaphor, in the sense that the metaphor is when I use an image of something of which I am aware, the better to share it with the patient. For example, if I have realised that in this analysis we are in a situation of impasse, I can use a metaphor: “It seems to me that our situation resembles that described by Conrad, when the ship is adrift and there is no wind,” so I use a metaphor to share and spin into a narrative a metaphorical image of which I am already aware.

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CHAPTER NINE: “The play's the thing wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king!” Psychoanalysis as a passion play

Karnac Books ePub

James S. Grotstein

An erstwhile experience with an analysand caused me—I would like to say inspired me—to rethink what may possibly be the deeper nature of the psychoanalytic process. It was as if a paradigm shift took place within me in regard to our basic conception of the psychoanalytic interaction. I was immediately reminded of a work of mine from long ago and then became aware of similar contributions by Freud (1905), Friedman (1953), Winnicott (1968), Loewald (1975), McDougall (1985, 1989), Modell (1990), Nuetzel (1995, 1999a, 1999b), and others. This new “Aha Erlebnis” then became an Ariadne's thread for me, one that I could see running through many if not all the analyses in my practice that I retrospectively reflected upon and subsequently observed, as well as detected, in supervisions.Psychoanalysis as a “scripted” and improvisational play performed in the analytic field

The epiphany that occurred to me was as follows: The psychoanalytic session, to say nothing of life itself, constitutes an ongoing theatrical play or novel in which we unconsciously beckon and recruit others via our unconscious “casting director” to enter into the sphere of our personal lives so as to play out roles that our unconscious playwright continuously creates in order to dramatize incompletely (insufficiently or inadequately) processed moments of emotional significance that still cry for attention in our internal world. Paradoxically, the text (free associations) is “scripted” by a numinous Presence in the unconscious, unbeknown to the analysand and analyst, but plays out in the session as if it were improvisational. The theater for this psychoanalytic play is the binary-oppositional structure of the setting, protected by the analytic frame. The binary oppositional structure is the dialectic between the one-person and two-person involvement, i.e., the theater makes room for the actors (the ana-lysand and analyst) to play their roles both as individuals who are separate and as an indivisible group or analytic field (Baranger, M. and Baranger, W., 1961–62). Psychopathology, furthermore, can be considered to be the third actor in a scripted as well as non-scripted play in repertory.

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Chapter One - The Meaning and use of Metaphor in Analytic Field Theory

Civitarese, Giuseppe; Ferro, Antonino Karnac Books ePub

As I lay in bed, with my eyes shut, I said to myself that everything is capable of transposition.

—Marcel Proust, The Prisoner

Each of the principal psychoanalytic models is underlain by certain key metaphors. For example, the archaeological and surgical metaphors, as well as that of the analyst-as-screen, all throw light on some of Freud's basic concepts. In classical psychoanalysis, however, metaphor still tends to be an illegitimate or secondary element. Analytic field theory, on the other hand, reserves a completely different place for it, both as an instrument of technique in clinical work and as a conceptual device in theoretical activity.

Metaphor and the field are linked in a chiasm: The field metaphor transforms Kleinian relational theory into a radically intersubjective theory, which in turn places metaphor at a point along the spectrum of dreaming—to paraphrase Bion, it is the stuff of analysis.

For the sake of illustration, we examine first the origins and meaning of the field metaphor in analytic field theory; we then consider the mutual implications of this particular development of post-Bion psychoanalysis and the modern linguistic theory of metaphor; and, finally, we put the theoretical hypotheses discussed in the first part of this contribution to work in the clinical situation.

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Chapter Ten: Meetings

Ferro, Antonino; Nicoli,Luca Karnac Books ePub

CHAPTER TEN

Meetings

Since you mentioned him and he passed away not long ago, I'd like to ask you to tell us something about James Grotstein.

When I think about Jim Grotstein, I can't help but instinctively smile, because he was a kind person, an extremely generous person, a person who did not realise just how brilliant he was and how many turning points he allowed psychoanalysis to reach, so I'd like to commemorate his generosity, the utter absence of both assertiveness and of that pride that sometimes can, in particular minds, even come with disdain towards those who are less brilliant. Also, his boundless affection and sweetness. Then I'd like to recall two things: the first is the applause that greeted him after the wonderful speech he had given at the conference on Bion in Boston and the standing ovation that was accorded him with true affection (Grotstein, 2009). Grotstein had a great capacity to give, to share, to be untroubled by those who would appropriate one of his ideas and claim it as their own; he had no sense of possession, of owning ideas, regarding which he thought the more one shares them, the more they grow: no property rights. And then I remember how we went to eat at the restaurant together, and how he had walked a long stretch of one of Boston's main streets without noticing that he still had a napkin in front of his trousers, sort of like an apron, and how he walked completely unaware of his apron, until, after more than an hour, we noticed the napkin with which he was going around. Then he took it off and placed it on his shoulder, and kept walking like nothing happened. So, about him I would like to remember his utter lack of a “I am Grotstein”: “I am nobody!”

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CHAPTER SIX: The dynamic field of psychoanalysis: A turning point in the theories of the unconscious

Karnac Books ePub

Carlos Sopena

In this paper I will refer to the theoretical and clinical model of the dynamic field of psychoanalysis, created by Madeleine and Willy Baranger in 1961–62. I will focus on the concept of unconscious which derives from such model and which differs from the traditional model. The authors state that the field's unconscious is neither the analysand's nor the analyst's and is shaped up during the session. This is, in my judgement, a turning point in the theories of the unconscious, because it anticipates further concepts that will acknowledge the role of intersubjectivity in the formations of the unconscious.

The authors indicate that the dynamic field is structured according to the basic functional configuration contained in the initial agreement made by the participants, where their roles are explicitly defined. Other important aspects of the analytical framework, such as spatial and time arrangements are quite stable, for instance, the agreed terms on sessions’ duration and frequency and interruptions. This belongs to the pre-conscious registry of the field.A characteristic of the field is that even if the basic configuration is bipersonal on the level of perceptive reality, such dualism is transcended because there is a third one absent or in the discourse. Rather than a character, the third one is the place of the absent one, a symbolic rather than imaginary place. This corresponds to the core oedi-pical configuration of neurosis, as defined by the authors in another paper, and which may vary and become dual or even fusional at regressive moments, but the triangle is the central situation where all other situations are composed from (Baranger, 1964).

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