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5: The Family Organization

Harris, Martha; Meltzer, Donald Harris Meltzer Trust ePub


The family organization

This chapter is probably the heart of the model. In it we will be at some pains to define roles and functions. There will be special reference to the educational functions, relating them backwards to the B.A. level and to the community, and forwards to problems of individual development which have already been introduced in the discussion of dimensions (Chapter 2).

It will be seen from the graphic representation of the model that we have traced six categories of family organization, in keeping with the six types of personality organization of individual members.

Before we enter into the detailed description of these six, it would be useful to define our classification of the roles and functions, stressing that these are not sociological divisions but are extrapolations of psychoanalytical researches into the internal structure of the personality as described by Melanie Klein and her co-workers. These would belong to Row C, dream-thought and myth, as defined by Bion in the Grid (Elements of Psychoanalysis, 1963), one of the genetic levels of thought in his model of the apparatus of thought.

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Chapter 4 The Compartments of the Internal Mother

Meltzer, Donald Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

Although the clinical realizations which gave rise to the conception of the compartmentalization of the internal mother’s body go back to the early 1960’s, the autism research group that finally produced Explorations in Autism, and particularly to the late Doreen Weddell’s work with “Barry”, it was not until twenty years later that the full significance came through to me. Out of clinical work and teaching and the literary companionship of Martha Harris and her daughters the conception of aesthetic conflict arose to alter considerably my view of personality development and the human condition. In between came the various essays collected and organized in Sexual States of Mind where the internal compartmentalization of the internal mother’s body, its reference to orifices and the polymorphous nature of adult sexuality, added substance to the formal description.

It is clear that two new ideas which, by gaining clarity, made the descriptions in this present book possible, are B ion’s affect theory, plus and minus L, H and K, and the central part in the oscillations Ps↔D, played by the aesthetic conflict. In seeing this as a tormenting uncertainty about the interior qualities of the aesthetic object, it becomes possible to express the idea of ego strength as negative capability. When the dimension strength/ weakness becomes thus observable in its operation and not merely construed from its consequences, we seem to move to a new level of precision in clinical observation (and self-scrutiny).

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1. Casimiro: life in the rectum—flight towards delusion

Karnac Books ePub

THERAPIST: The patient is a 36-year-old bachelor, the youngest of four brothers and sisters who are, respectively, four, five, and six years older than him. The second sister was diagnosed as schizophrenic and required hospital treatment. The mother, suffering from severe hypochondria, was hardly capable of attending to him as a baby as her hypochondriac state had been very much aggravated by the pregnancy. During the five years that followed his birth, she underwent several operations for cholecystectomy, laparotomy, and hysterectomy, all of which were attributed to the act of giving birth to Casimiro. As a baby he was looked after by his grandparents, with whom his parents had lived since their marriage. When the patient was 1 year old, the grandparents forced the parents to go and live elsewhere; from then on he was looked after by a woman to whose house his mother took him in the mornings and from where she collected him after work late in the evening. He didn’t play with other children. At school he often hid from the other children and the teacher, or ran away complaining that the others said or did things to annoy him. He learned things by himself and on his own, rather than in the classroom. At age 12, he was sent to the city to live with an aunt and uncle and was put to work in a bar. However, he found fault with everything and changed jobs frequently, going from one bar or restaurant to another. He completed his national service, doing kitchen work. He then returned home and found employment in a textile factory. This is when he began to consult a variety of doctors, at frequent intervals and for a great diversity of physical ailments. At the hospital clinic he was diagnosed and treated for “psychasthenic syndrome”. It was during the following months that delusional ideas of a self-referential and persecutory nature appeared along with the exacerbation of bodily symptoms. At the age of 24, he was admitted to hospital for a period of two months, where he was diagnosed as suffering from schizophrenia. He then continued his treatment as an outpatient, although on an irregular basis. Later, and of his own accord, he consulted other doctors, whom he afterwards accused of not wanting to cure him, and at the same time he became very aggressive, especially towards his parents. At the age of 28, he was once again admitted to a mental hospital; after that he lived at home periodically, but on very bad terms with the rest of the family. For the last six years he has been permanently in hospital.

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Meltzer, Donald Harris Meltzer Trust ePub
Medium 9781855756786

II. 1900 The Spiral of Method and Data (Studies on Hysteria)

Meltzer, Donald Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

In the first chapter I suggested that the fate of the creative scientist, as compared with the intuitive crank, is to be ‘wrong’ in all his conclusions. Freud knew this very well and for this reason never hesitated to publish his current ideas nor to abandon them for later approximations. If we try to take the measure of the history of psycho-analysis from the theoretical point of view, we would be in the maelstrom of swirling ideas, models, imagery, from which we would only escape by an arbitrary grasping at what Freud said - in the ‘Introductory Lectures’ for instance but not in the ‘Ego and the Id’ - or, worse still, to establish our own reading of Freud as the correct one: i.e. an orthodoxy.

But science (and art, for that matter) is not carried forward by theories but by advances in method, in technique. Jokingly one may say that the inventor of psycho-analysis was Anna O. with her ‘talking cure’ and ‘chimney sweeping’, and I would think that Freud was sincere when in the igio lectures at Clark University he gave credit for the origin to Breuer.

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