536 Chapters
Medium 9781780491066

23 Mattie on maternal containment

Rhode, Maria; Rustin, Margaret; Williams, Gianna Polacco; Williams, Meg Harris Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

Anne Alvarez

Mattie was big-hearted, intelligent, curious, and passionate about psychoanalysis, literature and the people she loved. She was also a wonderful and exciting teacher. There was an incredible sense of abundance about her – her cooking, her garden, her wealth of ideas, and her generosity in her clinical write-ups of observational or clinical material. She clearly hated over simplifcation and pathologization, and thus there is always a fully rounded picture of a session or of an observation. Not that she was ever obscure – she was clear, but she stuck to the detail of the rich complexity always. I wonder if this is one reason her writings are less well known than those of Donald Meltzer or Esther Bick, because they are not easy to pigeonhole conceptually. She did not think in headlines, she always thought of the rounded picture of the patient. This can be frustrating when you want to get at the theme or the main idea, but her style was so deeply open to subtlety, and somehow so understanding and forgiving of pathology without ever finching in the face of destructive-ness, that we have to be willing to search for the very important and often quite original ideas embedded in the writing.

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Medium 9781912567034

15. Transference-Love and its Vicissitudes

Williams, Meg Harris Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

Avner Bergstein

Psychoanalysis began with the treatment of Anna O, and one might say it began at the point where the analyst could not contain and bear his patient's love for him. In the more widely known version, Breuer who had become increasingly fascinated with Anna O's treatment is thought to have ignored his wife and consequently evoked her jealousy. Belatedly recognising her discomfort, Breuer abruptly terminated Anna O's treatment. Shortly thereafter, he was called back to find her in the midst of a hysterical childbirth. He calmed her down and, the next day, took his wife on a second honeymoon. Freud recounted this story to his wife, Martha, who ‘identified herself with Breuer's wife and hoped the same thing would never happen to her, whereupon Freud reproved her vanity in supposing that other women would fall in love with her husband; “for that to happen one has to be a Breuer”’ (Jones, 1953, p. 225). Freud, it seems, denied the possibility that one of his patients might fall in love with him, whereas Martha seemed to intuitively understand the universal nature of the phenomenon. Freud's delayed recognition of the widespread potential for transference-love (Freud, 1915) may reflect its very force and threat, then, and to this very day too (Spector-Person, 1993).

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Medium 9781912567065

4. On Aesthetic Reciprocity

Meltzer, Donald; Williams, Meg Harris Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

Donald Meltzer

The little chapter on ‘First impressions’ must serve as a guide line to our exploration. We know from ethology the powerful effect of imprinting in establishing a bond at a primitive level, the level of adhesive types of identification, of conditioned reflexes and of automatic obedience (or disobedience?). We want to trace and explore the comparable phenomena at the level of mentality of emotion, symbol formation, thought and judgement. There is indisputable evidence from the analytic therapy of psychotic children that the bonding at the imprinting level can be overridden by a failure of emotional bonding. Where this occurs we have been overly ready, as psychiatrists, to ascribe this deficit to extrinsic factors: foetal distress, immaturity, prolonged labour, etc. Almost always one can find some such extrinsic factor on which to hang a causal explanation. But the therapeutic process with such children – of which number James, described in the introduction, is far from atypical – suggests a more intrinsic problem that requires our understanding. It has no explanatory power and must remain somewhat conjectural, but it is powerfully evocative. We want to suggest that these children, in one way or another, have been overwhelmed by the aesthetic impact of the outside world and the prime object that represents it both concretely and symbolically: the mother, her breasts and nipples, and her eyes and mind.

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Medium 9781912567607


Bion, Wilfred R. Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

Question: I have been wondering why taking a history during an interview is important to me. I don't think I could give that up yet.

Bion: The first thing you have to consider is yourself and your way of working. If it is convenient to you to start off in some particular way you should do so. You can readjust it if you run up against a case in which it seems unsuitable. Patients are often used to this routine of giving a history, and you may as well let them feel at home by allowing them to do exactly that – otherwise it is so strange to them. If you start off by saying, ‘Now, what do you want?’ or ‘What can I do for you?’, the patient may reply, ‘That's what I came here to find out’, and will not move from that point. You are straight away in the middle of a story without knowing anything of its beginning. The essential thing is to give patients as much help in that way as you can, because they are the people who don't know what they are up to. If it can ease the situation for them to follow the sort of routine they are used to that's a good idea.

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Medium 9781912567249

2. Dream Life: The Generative Theatre of Meaning

Meltzer, Donald Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

Introduction by Miriam Botbol

Dream Life is one of the books by Meltzer that has most enriched clinical practice, owing to his formulation that dreams are generators of meaning in the analytical relationship. Written after The Psycho-Analytical Process and The Kleinian Development, it is sown with ideas that he will extend and pursue deeper in future papers and books.

In Part A he revises the theoretical basis of Freudian concepts, distinguishing “a baffling division between his tendency to form and prove rigid theories, and his extraordinary capacity for observation and imaginative speculation” (p.11). The chapter that deals with the expansion of Freud's metapsychology by Klein and Bion is a splendid summary of ideas in The Kleinian Development. Two important differences with Freud are spelled out: the dream is a real vital experience, and affects are previous to their representations. At the beginning of Part B Meltzer presents his new theory of dream life: dreaming is thinking; meaning is not captured from external reality, but generated by internal reality. He says: “In writing this I become increasingly aware of the magnitude of the task undertaken in this book and, with that, the impossibility of doing more than laying a groundwork of a new theory of dreams. Clearly I am attempting to formulate an aesthetic theory of dreams” (p.29). Part C examines the practice of dream investigation, the borderland between thought and action, and the difference between dream exploration and dream analysis. Meltzer writes: “I feel certain that the exploration is the more important, the more artistic aspect of the work. The patient's growing identification with the analyst's exploratory method is a far more important basis for his gradual development of self-analytic capacity than any striving towards formulation that he may evince” (p.147).

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