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Medium 9781855750845

32. Concerning the distinction between conflicts of desire and paradoxes of thought (1987)

Donald Meltzer Karnac Books ePub

The author concerns hirrtself with the aesthetic experience and postulates that conflict (between love and liate) is to emotional disorders what paradoxes are to thought disorders, when there is art impingement qf-K on K.

It was with obvious relish that Freud listed himself, along with Copernicus and Darwin, among those thinkers who have contributed to the shattering of man’s elitist conception of his nature and of his place in the universe. Taken in that sense, that these figures have attacked and destroyed old misconceptions, their unpopularity, for which Freud was attempting to account, seems quite intelligible. But it misses the central issue, which Wilfred Bion has focused attention upon, of the unpopularity of the new idea that they introduced. If we accept this focus, we are likely to realize that these thinkers did not shatter old ideas but revealed the emptiness that had been covered over by confabulation, as in the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes.

This type of conceptual emptiness Is always with us, clothed, If not with expressed confabulation, then with tacit assumptions so unvoiced that it is difficult to discover them. They belong to the basic assumptions that Bion suggested were the point of origins of group behaviour—tacit basic assumptions from which actions could be derived by simple logical operations without recourse to the arduous and anxious business of observation, thought, judgement, and decision.

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Medium 9781855759688

9. The aesthetic object

Meltzer, Donald Karnac Books ePub

Donald Meltzer

This essay, which has clearly the character of a “manifesto”, includes in a nutshell the themes that Meltzer was to develop in later years, outlining an innovative path of psychoanalytic thought, specifically in relation to the concepts of “aesthetic object”, “aesthetic conflict, and “claustrum”, with the complex clinical and theoretical problems that are linked to them.

Many will have noticed, as indeed I did, that more and more frequently I talk about “aesthetic objects”. It is true that in my analytic practice there have been some changes with respect to my ideas on the nature of psychic pain and on the organization of defensive processes in relation to them. These ideas depart somewhat from those of Melanie Klein; this is due in part to the progressive absorption of the ideas of Dr Bion on what he calls the “birth break”, on the transition from the condition of a water animal to the condition of an air animal. Let us focus now on this transition. We can begin by thinking of intra-uterine life, or at least at the last months of it, as a period in which the child has emotional experiences. On the basis of what the clinical material shows us, we can try to grasp conceptually the nature of this experience and the way in which it prepares the child for the transition to a life outside the mother’s body. One can take into consideration something that is in the domain of instinctual preparation or, as Bion would say, of “innate preconceptions”, which are already about to take their place in the uterus: the sensorial apparatuses (visual, auditory, gustative, etc.) are already stimulated by the nature of the object in which the child is, even though in an indistinct and filtered way. One can equally take into consideration that in the last two months of intra-uterine life the child feels increasingly constrained by this container; now he/she has almost no room to move, although he/ she can turn and change position, but in my opinion he/she must feel terribly squeezed in there and his/her body yearns to escape from this constraint. I believe that Bion was completely right to think that the foetus has no consciousness of his/her own growth; it is much more likely that, as one can see in some dreams, he/she perceives that the claustrum is tightening around him/her.

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Medium 9781855752528

9. Felipe: analytic work on the threshold of the depressive position

Karnac Books ePub

THERAPIST: The idea of presenting this case arose as a result of an internal seminar carried out on projective identification. I referred to this case when we were speaking about the clinical material that we had presented, and my colleagues suggested I should bring it to this Seminar, as they found it interesting, in order to develop this concept. I have brought some notes from the first interview, one week of the patient’s treatment (three sessions), and yesterday’s session, in which there is a dream that I found interesting and illustrative.

At the time of his first interview with me, Felipe was around 30 years of age. He had seen a psychoanalyst, who had referred him to me.

P: Are you Argentinean? I wanted a Catalan so as to integrate.

X. told me that what I wanted to “integrate” was my head. I left my country many years ago. I was in Venezuela and California before I came here…; . But I am mistrustful of Argentinean psychology. He made several references to other attempts to receive psychotherapeutic assistance in his own country, which all led to interruptions.

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34. Narcissism and violence in adolescents (1989)

Donald Meltzer Karnac Books ePub

The replacement ofthe family for a political structure and the blunting of aesthetic sensibilities generates violence in adolescence.

The second post-war generation has now reached adolescence, and the present adolescent community is the first to have been raised in the atmosphere of the sexual revolution following the turbulence of 1968. The changes in values and behaviour help us to separate out the cultural from the intrinsic factors in the adolescent state of mind. Gone is the Romantic Agony of the nineteenth century, but also gone is the tendency to fall in love. Instead of the expectation that love will lead to sexual intimacy, today’s young people expect that the sexual activity will ripen into love. The earlier predatory pubertal gang sexual behaviour, in which the boys boasted to their fellows of the conquests and the girls flaunted their capacity to attract and frustrate the boys, has given way to a more athletic mental-hygiene approach with mutual seduction. The brutality of “fucking” has yielded to the triviality of “bonking”. In its openness it has replaced the secrecy of masturbation.

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Medium 9781782202929

3. Morals and Super-men (1928)

Money-Kyrle, Roger Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

Some Ethical Problems from the Psycho-analytical Standpoint

1977 Introductory Note – Only dead sciences fail to develop. But in a vital science, such as psycho-analysis, the theoretical substructure tends to develop fairly rapidly. The following paper, written in 1928, was based on theories which have largely been modified or replaced since then. I would have written it quite differently today, but have left it in for the benefit of those who might be interested in comparing it with the different way I have tried to deal with similar subjects in later papers – and in particular after the Second War by which time I had had an analysis with Mrs Klein.

Moreover, if the title seems pretentious now, the notion that such a mythical being as a ‘perfectly analysed man’ could exist and be free from ‘inhibitions’, the notion that he might also be free from morals could then have seemed well worth investigating.


Religion has been defined as: ‘un ensemble de scrupules qui font obstacle au libre exercice de nos facultés.’1 But definitions that are epigrammatically expressed seldom cover more than half the common connotation of the concepts to which they are applied. And this is no exception; for the totality of a man’s inhibitions does not, as a rule, exhaust his religion. I suggest, however, that such a description is adequate to delineate the scope of morals.

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