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Medium 9781780490571

Chapter Eight - Sexuality and Perversion

Miller, J.F. Karnac Books ePub


Sexuality and perversion

It is symptomatic of our culture that sexuality is mostly thought of in terms of behaviour, as opposed to meaning and experience. “Sex” to most people nowadays immediately suggests physical activity, with little or no thought of the feelings or thoughts that might be involved. So, what is the essence of sexuality?

In evolutionary terms, the function of sexuality is, almost by definition, that of propagating the species. With human beings, however, the all-pervasiveness of sexuality is clearly completely out of proportion to the necessities of the survival of the species. The average human being would only need to engage in sexual intercourse a dozen or so times in their lifetime to produce enough offspring for the species to continue. The universal preoccupation—one is tempted to say, obsession—with sex and sexuality must, therefore, reflect something about the essential part it plays in our social and emotional well-being.

If we then look at the thoughts and ideas that most commonly characterise sexuality in cultural expression through music, literature, art, sculpture, etc., it is clear that they centre round the idea of a creative connection. So, to sum up what we have somewhat laboriously arrived at, sexuality is essentially about love and creativity. As we observed before, when two people genuinely “make love”, as opposed to simply “having sex”, there is always a baby conceived symbolically in the minds of the lovers, in the form of an amalgam of the most valued parts of each of them.

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Medium 9781855756984

I. The Impossible Couple

Verhaeghe, Paul Karnac Books ePub

The Divorce Express (by Paul Danzinger)
Mom’s House, Dad’s House (by Ricci Isolina)
Ellen is Home Alone (by Francine Pascal)
Jessie’s Baby-Sitter (by Martin)
A Man for Mother (by Charles Nostlinger)
Mum, Why Don’t You Fall in Love? (by A. Steinwart)
Two Father, Two Mothers (by R. De Nennie)

Titles of recent children’s books (For
children aged 9-12)

Spring 1969: Peter Easy Rider Fonda speeds on his bike through the American landscape, looking for freedom, leaving Pleasantville far behind. The sky is the limit. Autumn 1997: the same Peter Fonda plays a fifty-year old Vietnam vet, taking care of his grandchildren—his son is in jail, his daughter-in-law is a junkie and one of his worries is keeping his granddaughter off the street (Wee’s Gold).

Between these two movies, a world has disappeared that can be epitomised by the ubiquitous use of quotation marks—the ‘lady of the house’ invited the husband of her ‘best friend’ to her flat ‘to have a drink’. Today, nothing means what it once meant. The perception of this cultural earthquake can be very different, ranging from an anxious plea for the return of law and order to a jubilant expectation of a new society. Independently of these moral interpretations, one thing is crystal clear to everyone: family life has changed drastically, the couple of yesterday has almost vanished and paradoxically (at least in most Western European countries) the main defenders of marriage are to be found in the gay community.

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Medium 9781782200918


Lloyd, Naomi Karnac Books PDF


The birds are special and different.

They were the first to be born.

They fly together and touch together

For a few brief, exhilarating moments.

But the image is not reality …

Nothing is really forever,

And when they have attained their object

They, too, must fly separately

And survive.

Butterflies and birds,

Separate and together;

Learning that to need

Is not necessarily to be wanting.

Give me what I need.

Then I will be empowered to fly alone

And achieve. A whole world will be within my grasp.


n important aspect of this undertaking was that it should not be shrouded in shameful secrecy. I needed to have the courage to show my first tattoo to the world—most significantly to my family and those closest to me. Amongst that number I now included

Anna, and perhaps predictably, I needed her to be the first person to bear witness to it.

In the last few months of our work together, Anna allowed me to record her dramatic recollection of that session seven years earlier, in which I revealed my first tattoo to her. What intrigued me about her account was the marked difference between the emotional impact of this event on each of us at that time. Anna’s ability to contain my painful feelings could still mislead me into underestimating the intense impact it could have on her. I simply trusted in her strength to “manage everything”, with little concept of the heavy emotional demands I was making on her. Though I still didn’t understand where this strength came from, I now firmly believed that it originated from a compassionate concern for me. But conflicting feelings towards Anna continued to battle in my deeply troubled internal world.

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Medium 9781855759091

CHAPTER NINE: Talking nonsense, and knowing when to stop

Karnac Books ePub

Adam Phillips

Tyrants always want language and literature that is easily understood.

Theodor Hacker, Notes

I want to start with two propositions and entangle them with a view to saying something about the vexed question of endings in psychoanalysis, and about what, if anything, the issue of endings in psychoanalysis has to tell us about endings elsewhere. The first proposition is that it is impossible to know the consequences of one’s words—the spoken, the heard, and the overheard. The analyst can never predict the effect that his words will have on the so-called patient, and vice-versa. So, for example, whatever psychoanalytic training is, it can never train people to know what to say when, if knowing what to say means knowing what one’s words can do for the patient. By the same token, one can be taught what to listen out for, but, by definition, one could never be prepared for the surprising, for whatever it is about someone else’s words that is peculiarly evocative. Lacan was referring to this when he said that if the analyst has been properly analysed, he is more not less likely to fall in love with the patient. However well educated one is about one’s unprotectedness, the words used are unpredictable in their effect. Language is to the speaker and listener what the daydream is to the dreamer, idiosyncratically enlivening. Learning to speak, learning to interpret, is never merely learning what to say. Learning to listen can only be learn-ing—if that is the right word—to bear what listening calls up in you. It would have been better if Freud had said: speaking and listening is like dreaming in language. What is called interpretation is the dream evoked by a dream. It is impossible to know the consequences of one’s words, the spoken, the heard, and the overheard.

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Medium 9781780491172

Chapter Seven - The Grief of Regret Motivating Commitment to Marriage in a Woman: Sarah's Extramarital Affair

Kavaler-Adler, Susan Karnac Books ePub


The grief of regret motivating commitment to marriage in a woman: Sarah's extramarital affair

Commitment that is fully realised at a psychic level is not so often achieved.

Couples who have early loss and trauma in their lives are particularly prone to defend against full commitment to one another. In spite of this, when the losses can be faced and mourned, increasing degrees of commitment and sustained intimacy can be achieved. Equally important to mourning early losses, however, is the mourning of the grief of regret related to failures in commitment. The full conscious experience of one's regret concerning shortcomings in commitment can actually become the turning point of a marriage. The case of Sarah illustrates this.

Sarah entered psychotherapy for the first time after being married for fourteen years. She realised that she had never fully been able to commit to her husband. She told me that she wanted to understand her difficulties in making a commitment to a husband. She had kept a journal of her thoughts and feelings, and wanted to read this journal to me once she chose me as her psychoanalyst. She hoped that by sharing all of her intimate thoughts, she would be able to receive help in understanding what propelled her away from her husband, both earlier in their marriage, and during the affair. She also hoped to come to understand how losses earlier in her life, such as the death of her older brother when she was fourteen, might have made her involvement with her husband difficult. She told me that she had been very close to her older brother when she was young, in a way that she had never felt with her younger brother, or with her sister. She also told me that she had re-experienced memories of being close to him and of losing him. She said that remembering him was very painful. She said that her feelings of loss had stayed with her over a long period of time.

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Medium 9781855752603

8: Theoretical Issues

Waska, Robert Karnac Books ePub


Theoretical issues

Working with masochistic patients reveals a broad spectrum of pathology. These patients exhibit a mix of symptoms and unconscious conflicts that differ widely, yet all converge around phantasies of suffering. The analyst encounters masochistic pathology within both the paranoid–schizoid position (Klein, 1946) and the depressive position (Klein, 1935). The particular anxieties and motivations of these developmental experiences colour and shape the patient's masochistic style.

There are patients who suffer deep masochistic despair and who, upon close clinical examination, prove to be experiencing primitive states of loss, guilt, and envy. Rather than using masochistic compromises to ward off depressive fears, these patients are defending against paranoid–schizoid anxieties.

The Kleinian developmental view

The infant begins life within competing neurological states, psychological and physical tensions, somatic and cognitive sensations, and fluctuating exchanges with internal and environmental stimuli. From the very start, the infant seeks out the object in order to bring about a subjective sense of organization, discharge, and understanding, at first in more primitive ways and later with more sophisticated expression and intent. These conditions of mind and body are innate and, with the phantasies created through complex internal relationships between the ego and the object, make up the emerging substrates of what we term the “self”.

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Medium 9781855753525


Karnac Books ePub

I want to thank Nathan Field for asking me to respond to his paper, “The spiritual dimension in psychotherapeutic practice”. Doing so has enabled me to think more deeply around the many interesting points that he raises; my aim is not to express a closed or definitive point of view, but rather to open up a discussion. To do this I shall write about the thoughts I have had that were stimulated by his paper, and comment on some linked aspects of his work. I hope by showing how my thinking diverges from his to open up a dialogue with the reader, and a space for further thoughts.

I should make clear that I do not link the practice of psychoanalytic psychotherapy with spirituality. Spirituality I take to mean something that is linked to religious belief in the broadest sense. I make no claim for spirituality in my work nor in the language I shall use to describe it. To best describe the practice of psychotherapy as I aim to practise it I turn to Thomas Ogden:

the sort of unconscious engagement with the analysand to which I am referring results in the creation of a third subject, the “intersub-jective analytic third” … the experience of analyst and analysand [and of] the analytic third represents an experiential base, a pool of unconscious experience to which analyst and analysand both contribute and from which they individually draw in the process of generating their own experience of the analytic relationship. [Ogden, 2001, p. 19]

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Medium 9781782205180

Chapter Eleven - Couple Psychotherapy Settings and Change in the Digital Age

Karnac Books ePub

Amita Sehgal (UK)

Electronic communication has a powerful impact on the way we conduct our daily lives. In this chapter I explore the influence of the digital revolution on our professional lives, in particular on the provision and practice of psychoanalytic couple psychotherapy. I attend to the importance of the setting within which psychotherapy is delivered over the internet and illustrate circumstances in which couple therapy was provided online. I discuss the advantages and disadvantages of providing psychotherapy online versus the traditional analytic setting. I conclude with my ideas on how transformational change occurs in couple therapy in which sessions are conducted in cyberspace.

Innovations in digital information technology represent a revolution that has fundamentally changed the way people think, behave, communicate, and work. Digital technology has made it possible to digitize information thus enabling words and images to be recorded in binary combinations of the digits 0 and 1, also called bits (Compaine, 2001). Digitizing information in this way has two advantages: large amounts of data can be compressed and preserved on small portable storage devices; and data transmission is speeded up. Through creating innovative ways of storing and disseminating information, the digital revolution has forged new ways of connecting people across geographical locations and time zones. Advances in mobile telephone technology, for instance, have now made it possible to use the cellphone to send and receive text messages and emails, make voice calls, and connect to the internet for activities ranging from accessing social media websites to online banking.

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Medium 9781855754003

CHAPTER ELEVEN: The three faces of the preconscious. From the point of view of Bion’s theory of functions

Lopez-Corvo, Rafael E. Karnac Books ePub

“Nothing is totally under our control except for our thoughts”

(Descartes, 1614)

The three faces of Amarna

The village of Amarna, some time located between Memphis and Thebes in Middle Egypt, has been lost under the sand of the Sahara desert for the past three thousand years. Early in the 1800s fragments of unknown pottery, beautiful modelled statuettes, and mud walls of buildings began to be found, together with pieces of glassware, cartouches, stone or clay tablets covered with unfamiliar writing, and names of kings never revealed before. Carried by the enthusiasm of tourists and later instigated by Baron Alexander von Humboldt himself, the Germans started excavating the place around the middle of the year of 1800. The fragmentary mutilation of all the sculptures, the systematic suppression of all the names, including those of Akhenaton, Nefertiti, and Tutankhamen from all the walls, graves, and public monuments, induced the reflection that it might have been a methodical aggression directed towards the city, its treasures, and its inhabitants. Amarna had not vanished as other cities from the past had, due to entropy, abandonment, or natural disasters; instead, it was suppressed, totally abolished by men’s unmerciful vengeance and pitiless envy.

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Medium 9781782200956

48 - None of the Party Leaders is Offering us Charisma

Covington, Coline Karnac Books ePub

Clegg comes closest, but we're too self-interested to accept his vision

When Gordon Brown took over from Tony Blair as prime minister and leader of the Labour Party in 2007, there were many who welcomed the prospect of a “real” figure becoming PM, in contrast to what they saw as the artifice and charisma of the Blair years.

Brown did not put on a media face or appear to make false promises. It was Brown's “realness”, along with his Calvinist principles, that was meant to restore faith in the Labour Party and accountability within government.

But a series of blunders—culminating in “Bigot-gate”—and rumours about his character traits have tarnished Brown. He has become only too “real”, it seems, and while some may still regard him with sympathy, many are asking—as the opinion polls make clear—whether this is the kind of behaviour we want in a prime minister.

In other words, was the sort of charisma offered by Tony Blair such a bad thing, after all?

In 1956, an American television show called To Tell the Truth made its debut, and it remained one of the most popular shows for more than a decade. Three panellists played the part of someone who had an extraordinary job or an unusual experience. Two panellists were imposters and the third was the real person. Four celebrities were given the job of trying to catch out who were the imposters through a series of questions. The imposters were allowed to lie, but the real person was sworn to tell the truth. At the end of the show, the real contestant was asked to stand up. Surprisingly, the contestant the celebrities voted for was more often than not one of the imposters. The clear message was that the power of illusion is stronger than reality.

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Medium 9781855757332

Chapter One: Us and them

Falk, Avner Karnac Books ePub

Human evolution scholars, anthropologists, and historians have many theories about how ethnic groups, races, tribes, and nations came about, but recorded human history is often the story of the wars that they fought. Organized human warfare has existed for the past ten thousand to fifteen thousand years—a short period of time relative to the hundreds of thousands of years it took for our species to evolve from its African origins. One of the earliest warring civilizations was that of Egypt. The ancient Egyptian pharaohs made war on their neighbours to enlarge their kingdoms, yet the earliest archaeological evidence for large-scale organized warfare dates from around 3500 BCE, and a unified Egyptian kingdom was only founded around 3150 BCE by the pharaoh Menes, giving rise to a series of dynasties that ruled Egypt for the next three millennia and, “naturally,” made war on their neighbouring peoples to subjugate them (Keegan, 1993).

However, organized human warfare has been with us ever since recorded history and “prehistory,” and among its psychological accompaniments have been ethnocentrism and racism. Deriving from the Greek word ethnos, meaning tribe or people (hence “ethnic group” and “ethnic cleansing”), ethnocentrism is the perception of a human “race,” tribe, or nation of itself as the centre of the world, and racism is its perception of itself as superior to all other “races”. The Italian psychoanalyst Franco Fornari thought that another, deeper cause of human warfare was the collective inability of large human groups to mourn their losses. Those who cannot mourn their losses unconsciously project their guilt feelings on their “enemies,” and make war on them (Fornari, 1974). We shall look into this crucial issue below, when discussing the origins of the mediæval Crusades.

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Medium 9781782201366

Chapter Two - Mothers in Shakespeare—Absent and Present

Grunes, Dorothy T.; Grunes, Jerome M. Karnac Books ePub

Within William Shakespeare's great body of work, the role of mothers comes as a great surprise. It is tempting to utilise a structuralist's solution. On Shakespeare's stage there were no females. To portray a young woman the solution was simple; to have a boy costumed as a girl. For a man to play an adult woman would be a more difficult dilemma. In a comedy with many adult female characters, such as The Merry Wives of Windsor, this would not prove an obstacle. If the costume effect failed, it could simply further the comedic effect. In a tragedy, however, it was more complex. Despite the legal limitations Shakespeare was burdened with, what is of interest is the solution that he chose. We cannot speculate upon the nature of his creative process or the effect his life experience had on his writing. We can, however, examine our reaction to his portrayals of mothers in the resulting artistic creations.

Alan Rothenberg, reflecting on this same paucity of mothers in Shakespeare's dramas, states that “the well-treated, fortunate, happy child is absent as well as the ideal mother, tender, constant, and true, sympathetic alike in the prosperity and adversity…The mother (or nurse) is almost always cold, neglectful, cruel or simply absent physically from the child's emotional hemisphere” (Rothenberg, 1971, pp. 447–468). In a feminist critique, Janet Adelman sees this absence of mothers as an attempt “to establish masculine identity through the absence of the maternal.” Her argument continues: “Shakespeare splits his psychic and dramatic world in two (heterosexual bonds and father–son bonds) isolating its elements from each other and from the maternal body that would be toxic to both” (Adelman, 1992, p. 10). This simultaneously exemplifies the beauty of the projective nature of Shakespeare's work and the subsequent danger of discovering in Shakespeare that which the investigator expects to find. While we firmly believe in separating the author from his work, as in the New Criticism, it is a difficult task. Psychobiography leads only to reductionism. Even Sigmund Freud attempted to resist this view. Freud wrote that: “Before the problem of the creative artist analysis must, alas, lay down its arms” (Freud, 1928b, p. 177). This dictum did not prevent him from using literature to buttress his clinical findings. Yet he was able to also recognise the limitations of psychoanalytic criticism of literature, and delegated it as only one of many ways in increasing our experience of art. It is not what we know or presume to know about Shakespeare, but rather how close reading, hearing, and witnessing the plays allows us to find the Hamlets, Lears, Macbeths, and Falstaffs, in ourselves. Harold Bloom, an aesthetic critic, writes: “we hear, speak and know ourselves and others” (Bloom, 1998, pp. 1–17). We value the insights of creative writers on Shakespeare, such as Samuel Johnson, William Hazlitt, T. S. Eliot, James Joyce, and W. H. Auden, among others. One must be cautious of theorists who attempt to simplify what is complex, and to be wary of formulaic conclusions. Our focus is on our emotional reaction to the works, whatever form this appreciation may take; whether it be love, hate, or any ambivalent combination. Bloom also dislikes socio-historical and political critics and he too understands that Shakespeare's works must speak for themselves. This is most true for this chapter on mothers in Shakespeare, as it is a topic many theorists and critics have deconstructed based upon few assumptions from Shakespeare's own life experience.

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Medium 9780946439676

14. The androgyne: some inconclusive reflections on sexual perversions

Karnac Books ePub

Michael Fordham

Fqrdham observes that Jungian analysts have neglected the perversions. He also suggests that Jungian interest in imagination and phantasy can go on in an excessively disembodied way. For these reasons, Fordham’s approach to perversion makes use of terms and concepts of his own and those of psychoanalytic writers (Freud, Klein, Bion and Meltzer).

This enables Fordham to point out parallels between Bion’s theory of beta elements, alpha elements, and alpha function and Jung’s idea of the archetype, with its instinctual and spiritual poles. The androgyne, itself an archetypal image, acts as an organizer for polymorphous and physical sexual activities. In his use of the image of the androgyne, Fordham is emphasizing the part played in internal life by images of which the individual may not be aware.

Fordham makes a further suggestion about why it is that perverse mental process leads or does not lead to actual perversion: could this have something to do with psychological type? He concludes that, though interesting, this is not sufficient as an explanation.

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Medium 9781855755581

Sexual dread and the therapist's desire

Karnac Books ePub

Sexual dread and the therapist's desire

Susanna Abse

In this chapter I will discuss why some therapies seem to help couples re-establish their sexual relationship while other therapies cannot shift longstanding difficulties in this area. Linked to this, I will explore whether therapists need to work directly with the details of a couple's sexual relationship, as these may represent enactments of otherwise inaccessible anxieties. I will also address how the therapist's countertransference can be helpful in making sense of these body-based symptoms.

It is commonly said that couple psychoanalytic psychotherapists do not talk much about sex. Because of developments in psychoanalytic theory since the middle of the last century, and in particular the influence of Melanie Klein, there has been a dominance of interest in early object relations and a focus on the relationship between mother and baby. This focus has made it less common for psychoanalytically informed couple therapists to be curious about their patient's sex life in the ordinary, day-to-day way that Freud and other early psychoanalysts were. Kennedy (2001) comments in his reader, Libido, that modern psychotherapists tend not to discuss sex much with their patients, and points out that it was from these ordinary discussions that Freud developed his thinking about many aspects of sexuality.

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Medium 9781911597094

Chapter Two: God

Chupp, Teresa Aeon Books ePub

When discussing the nature of God, it is imperative for us to remember that our perceptions and understanding of God are limited, and anything we can say is necessarily partial and biased. Nonetheless, we must press forward in this work to clarify our own ideas and understanding, and to construct a foundation for a system of meaning to guide our lives. To this end, I advocate a monotheism that is panentheistic, rather than the polytheistic theology of Paganism, and this needs to be explained, and its value clarified. Theodicy, arguably the most difficult issue in theology, must also be addressed. Although there are few things that can be said about the nature of God that are not unacceptably limiting, it seems that, with restraint, we can speak meaningfully of a God that is both immanent and transcendent. I suggest we begin by investigating how we perceive and understand God.


Does the need to attribute personal intention or causality give rise to the religious impulse? Did people create God to explain mysterious events they did not understand? It has been suggested that humans naturally think in terms of cause and effect, and when a cause for an event is not obvious, one is postulated. In this manner, people may have devised the idea of God in order to explain why things exist (d'Aquili & Newberg, 1999). Situations that are threatening, stressful and mysterious, such as medical problems, elicit attributions to God most frequently (Spilka & Schmidt, 1983; Wikstrom, 1987). Early humans, like all people, had a need to find meaning in events, and since their understanding was limited to their own personal experience and point of view, they may have attributed intention to natural events they did not understand, personified those events, and inferred God out of those events.

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