Medium 9781855759688

Psychoanalysis and Art

Views: 1568
Ratings: (0)

This essential edition brings together a collection of classic papers from key figures in Kleinian and post-Kleinian thought that explore the relationship between psychoanalysis and art.Sandra Gosso begins with a comprehensive and fascinating guide to the history of this relationship which began with Freud and was developed further by Melanie Klein at a time when most analysts were moving away from links with art. Melanie Klein's pivotal paper, "Infantile Anxiety Situations Reflected in a Work of Art and in the Creative Impulse", follows the Introduction. The other papers featured are mainly from British analysts who expanded on Melanie Klein's ideas, inspired by the influence of the creative Bloomsbury and Imago Groups. Members of the Imago Group, founded by Adrian Stokes, include Donald Meltzer, Wilfred Bion, Roger Money-Kyrle and Marion Milner; all of whom underwent analysis with Melanie Klein. Their interests range throughout the arts and this allows them to explore the relationship between art and psychoanalysis from varied and thought-provoking angles. The papers featured here investigate such core themes as the creative impulse, aesthetics, literature and symbol formation.This definitive volume is essential reading for students and professionals in the fields of psychoanalysis, art and cultural studies.

List price: $44.99

Your Price: $35.99

You Save: 20%

Remix
Remove
 

23 Chapters

Format Buy Remix

1. Infantile anxiety-situations reflected in a work of art and in the creative impulse

ePub

Melanie Klein

My first subject is the highly interesting psychological material underlying an opera of Ravel’s, now being revived in Vienna. My account of its content is taken almost word for word from a review by Eduard Jakob in the Berliner Tageblatt.

A child of six years old is sitting with his homework before him, but he is not doing any work. He bites his pen-holder and displays that final stage of laziness, in which ennui has passed into cafard. “Don’t want to do the stupid lessons”, he cries in a sweet soprano. “Want to go for a walk in the park! I’d like best of all to eat up all the cake in the world, or pull the cat’s tail or pull out all the parrot’s feathers! I’d like to scold everyone! Most of all I’d like to put mama in the corner!” The door now opens. Everything on the stage is shown very large—in order to emphasize the smallness of the child—so all that we see of his mother is a skirt, an apron and a hand. A finger points and a voice asks affectionately whether the child has done his work. He shuffles rebel-liously on his chair and puts out his tongue at his mother. She goes away. All that we hear is the rustle of her skirts and the words: “You shall have dry bread and no sugar in your tea!” The child flies into a rage. He jumps up, drums on the door, sweeps the tea-pot and cup from the table, so that they are broken into a thousand pieces. He climbs on to the window-seat, opens the cage and tries to stab the squirrel with his pen. The squirrel escapes through the open window. The child jumps down from the window and seizes the cat. He yells and swings the tongs, pokes the fire furiously in the open grate, and with his hands and feet hurls the kettle into the room. A cloud of ashes and steam escapes. He swings the tongs like a sword and begins to tear the wallpaper. Then he opens the case of the grandfather-clock and snatches out the copper pendulum. He pours the ink over the table. Exercise-books and other books fly through the air. Hurrah! …

 

2. A psycho-analytical approach to aesthetics

ePub

Hanna Segal

“Denn das Schöne ist nichts
als des Schrecklichen Anfang, den wir noch gerade ertragen,
und wir bewundern es so, weil es gelassen verschmäht,
uns zu zerstören.”
1

In 1908 Freud wrote: “We laymen have always wondered greatly like the cardinal who put the question to Ariosto—how that strange being, the poet, comes by his material. What makes him able to carry us with him in such a way and to arouse emotions in us of which we thought ourselves perhaps not even capable?”2 And as the science of psychoanalysis developed, repeated attempts were made to answer that question. Freud’s discovery of unconscious phantasy life and of symbolism made it possible to attempt a psychological interpretation of works of art. Many papers have been written since, dealing with the problem of the individual artist and reconstructing his early history from an analysis of his work. The foremost of these is Freud’s book on Leonardo da Vinci. Other papers have dealt with general psychological problems expressed in works of art, showing, for instance, how the latent content of universal infantile anxieties is symbolically expressed in them. Such was Freud’s paper “The Theme of the Three Caskets”,3 Ernest Jones’s “The Conception of the Madonna through the Ear”,4 or Melanie Klein’s “Infantile Anxiety Situations Reflected in a Work of Art and the Creative Impulse”.5

 

3. The unconscious phantasy of an inner world reflected in examples from literature

ePub

Joan Riviere

The inner world which in our unconscious phantasy each of us contains inside ourselves is one of those psychoanalytical concepts that most people find especially difficult to accept or understand. It is a world of figures formed on the pattern of the persons we first loved and hated in life, who also represent aspects of ourselves. The existence even in unconscious phantasy of these inner figures and of their apparently independent activities within us (which can be as real, or more real and actual, to us in unconscious feeling than external events) may seem incredible and incomprehensible; it might therefore perhaps be useful to approach the problem from the opposite end, as it were, that is from the conscious level. My aim in this contribution is essentially to forge a link between certain conscious experiences, which will be familiar to most people, and the proposition that phantasies of our containing other persons inside ourselves, though deeply unconscious, do exist. For this purpose I have selected some relevant passages from literature. Before discussing these, however, I will consider shortly the question why this proposition of internal objects seems so difficult to accept.

 

4. The role of illusion in symbol formation

ePub

Marion Milner

M

uch has been written by psychoanalysts on the process by which the infant’s interest is transferred from an original primary object to a secondary one. The process is described as depending upon the identification of the primary object with another that is in reality different from it but emotionally is felt to be the same. Ernest Jones and Melanie Klein in particular, following up Freud’s formulations, write about this transference of interest as being due to conflict with forces forbidding the interest in the original object, as well as to the actual loss of the original object. Jones, in his paper “The Theory of Symbolism” (1916), emphasizes the aspects of this prohibition which are to do with the forces that keep society together as a whole. Melanie Klein, in various papers, describes also the aspect of it which keeps the individual together as a whole; she maintains that it is the fear of our own aggression towards our original objects which makes us so dread their retaliation that we transfer our interest to less attacked and so less frightening substitutes. Jones also describes how the transfer of interest is due, not only to social prohibition and frustration and the wish to escape from the immanent frustrated mouth, penis, vagina, and their retaliating counterparts, but also to the need to endow the external world with something of the self and so make it familiar and understandable.

 

5. The invitation in art

ePub

Adrian Stokes

S

ince the time, nearly fifty years ago, that Marcel Duchamp sent to an exhibition in New York a porcelain urinal (described as a fountain) with the signature of the manufacturer that he, Duchamp, had attached in his own writing, we have had an excellent occasion with which to associate new reflections upon the values of art. We realize that adepts at scanning an object for the less immediate significance of its shape, a manner of looking at things that has been cultivated from looking at art, will contemplate a multitude of objects, and certainly, in an august setting, the regular curves and patterns of light on that porcelain object, with aesthetic prepossessions. With less thought for the object’s function than for its patterns and shape, we project on to them a significance learned from many pictures and sculptures. But are we projecting separate experiences of art; are we not projecting an aspect of ourselves that has always been identified with them; and is not the identification an integral factor, therefore, of aesthetic experience and an aim for art? This has seemed even more likely since psychoanalysis uncovered a mechanism called projective identification by which parts of ourselves or of our inner objects may be attributed even to outside objects that, unlike artefacts, at first sight seem inappropriate for their reception. It is possibly in this manner as well that we might discover ourselves to be assimilated in an active aesthetic transformation of the urinal, an object that does not itself communicate to us with the eloquence of art. We, the spectators, do all the art-work in such a case, except for the isolating of the object by the artist for our attention.

 

6. The apprehension of beauty

ePub

Donald Meltzer

I

t became a fundamental tenet of Melanie Klein’s views on infantile development that the accomplishment of a satisfactory splitting-and-idealization of self and object was a primary requirement for healthy development. By means of this mechanism, in her view, it becomes possible for an idealized part of the infantile self to ally itself with an idealized object, in the first instance the mother’s breast, as the bulwark against persecutory anxiety and confusion. The confusion particularly between good and bad in self and objects is, by this means, separated in a categorical way: exaggerated and rigid, it is true, but affording a working basis for the task of gradual reintegration of the split-off aspects in the course of development, as the values of the paranoid–schizoid position are gradually replaced by those of the depressive position, with the relinquishment of egocentricity in favour of concern for the welfare of the loved objects of psychic and external reality. This gradual shift in values has a sweeping effect upon judgement and the estimation in which are held the various attributes of human nature. Thus goodness, beauty, strength, and generosity replace in esteem the initial enthralment to size, power, success, and sensuality. But the mode of operation of this primal mechanism of splitting-and-idealization has remained elusive and mysterious, the more so as we have become increasingly aware of the major part played by both inadequate and excessive use of it in the genesis of mental illness. Over and over again we find that the borderline, psychotic, or psychopathic patient has a fundamental defect in the differentiation of good and bad, being unable to make the distinction, or making it with rigidity bound to descriptive criteria which mock the very purpose of the operation, or even holds them in quite an inverted relation to one another. As the ubiquity of this defect in the more psychotic portion of the personality more and more pressed itself upon me in clinical experience, the more I also became aware of its conjunction with another serious defect: namely the failure of apprehension of beauty through emotional response to its perception. I noticed that whereas the more healthy of my patients recognized beauty as a donné without uncertainty through a powerful emotional reaction, the more ill were very dependent upon social cues, formal qualities and intellectual criteria. Often their judgement appeared sound, and in some instances even served as the basis for successful careers where aesthetic judgement was quite central. Nonetheless it was clear that, due to the lack of direct and immediate emotional response, they were deprived both of confidence in their judgement and of sincerity in their interest.

 

7. The delusion of clarity of insight

ePub

Donald Meltzer

T

o implement his sensory equipment, tool-making man became scientific-man and developed an astonishing range of instruments for evaluating qualities and quantities in the external world. He developed an adequate notational system for assisting his memory and communication about these objects. Emboldened by this signal success, in the last century particularly, he began to try, with understandable optimism, to apply these same techniques to the description and measurement of the things of which his inner world, psychic reality, is composed.

The consequent output of instruments and data has again been impressive, but many people feel uneasy about the value and precision of these products, for in some way they seem to fall so short, in richness as well as meaningfulness, of the instruments for investigation and communication developed by poets, artists, musicians and theological figures. Some people feel that it is the conceptual background and not the instruments that is to blame. Others feel that we have come up against the limitations of language, trying, as Wittgenstein (1953) claims, to say things that can only be shown. Freud (1895d) noted quite early a very striking split in his own use of language, that his theories rang of the laboratory and his data read like short stories. As he went on with his work he also noted over and over that, when faced with conceptual impasse, he found himself returning to the dream as his primary datum (Freud, 1918).

 

8. The relation of dreaming to learning from experience in patient and analyst

ePub

Donald Meltzer

In analysis we usually study dreams to gain access to processes of thinking that concern the patient’s emotional conflicts. But every once in a while, particularly with patients who are students of analysis or are professionally interested in the analytic method itself, a different sort of dream arises. These are dreams that seem to reflect the patient’s thinking about how his mind works. They are what might be called “theoretical” dreams; they are not about psychoanalysis proper but the patient’s own theory about his experience of his mind’s operation.

Throughout the history of psychoanalysis, the so-called “theories of the mind” have been the changing models of the mental apparatus that analysts think they are using in listening to, observing and trying to understand their patients and themselves. Freud’s own models changed during the course of his work. The first model postulated by him resembled some kind of telephone exchange and this he elaborated, before he started on his psychoanalytic work, in what is known as “The Project for a Scientific Psychology”. This was a neurologist’s model and was concerned with the apparatus that conducts messages in the brain; it had nothing to do with the meaning of the messages but only with the way in which the messages were distributed and conducted through the neural network. Once he embarked upon analytic work he elaborated a second theory which was, in a way, a supplement to the first, namely the Libido theory. This was a theory about the distribution of “mental energy” in which mental energy and sexual excitation were more or less equated with one another. But then, in the course of his work, he discovered that the central problem was conflict which had various configurations; conflict between what he called the ego and the outside world; conflict between the ego and the superego; and between the ego and the instincts. So he elaborated the Structural Theory (in the 1920s) in which he spoke of the ego as serving three masters. This envisaged the mind as an apparatus for conciliation whose central function was to reconcile the demands coming from these three directions—a negotiating instrument. It seemed natural, from the employment of that model, that this central part of the mind, the ego, should then be viewed as being mainly concerned with maintaining peace of mind (the Nirvana principle). None of the models he devised took any serious account of emotionality and its meaning—this was left for Melanie Klein to develop in her theory of the internal world. This was a great advance since it envisaged the mind as a kind of internal theatre with figures entering into emotional relationships and conflicts with one another, from which meaning was generated and deployed into the external world and external relationships. What the theory lacked was any interest in, or concern with, the thinking processes themselves; it seemed to take for granted that the mind was able to think, to perform thinking functions, as if that were not a problem for psychoanalytical investigation but could be left to the philosophers and academic psychologists.

 

9. The aesthetic object

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.

 

10. Concerning the perception of one’s own attributes and its relation to language development

ePub

Donald Meltzer with Mme Eve Cohen (Paris)

The differentiation in the clinical setting of psychoanalysis be tween the manifestations of delusions and the reporting of primitive perceptions would seem to be an area of observation and description opened up by Bion’s Theory of Thinking. By offering us a model that enables us to conceive of such a differentiation he has made possible our monitoring the phenomena of our consulting room for their realizations. The theory of alpha-function and beta-elements has already proved itself fruitful for clinical observation in the area of communication of meaningful messages versus communication-like missiles of meaningless stuff. In work with psychotic children it has helped us to recognize their response to bombardment with emotional experiences for which they have no capacity either of containment or thought. It also gives us a basis for distinguishing between immaturity and psychosis.

A report presented by Mme Eve Cohen at a seminar held in Paris in April 1982 throws some valuable light on the problem. Mme Cohen’s material concerned her patient, Henri, aged twenty-six, who had had a breakdown while abroad after six years of aimless wanderings following upon his mother’s departure from the family home to live with a lover with whom she had had a secret liaison for over ten years. Among his complaints at the time of hospitalization there was none of the usual delusional ideas nor was his demeanour and mode of communication bizarre or unfriendly or secretive. On the contrary, he was very open in describing the many phenomena of perception of himself and the world which troubled him and prevented him from maintaining any settled mode of life.

 

11. On turbulence

ePub

Donald Meltzer

I

f Bion’s Theory of Thinking has some essential truth in it one must expect that new ideas, the ones which have an impact to produce catastrophic change, would appear first in dream form, only later to find some verbal and abstract representation. This is no more than to say that symbolic representations of ideas are most likely to be generated by borrowing formal elements from the outside world to portray internal world phenomena. These formal elements may implicitly include abstractions which lend themselves to analogical use in dream-life. Thus do artists and poets operate to perform their social function of giving communicable form to the new ideas nascent in the culture. To succeed in this function they must disturb us, frame questions in order to set the audience in motion to seek the answers, answers which, of course, mainly take the form of new readiness for new questions.

Psychoanalysis has come some considerable distance in defining the spectrum of emotional nuances which hold the meaning of our mental experiences. It would be a cogent view of our so-called theories that they are merely descriptive devices for outlining the structure of the variety of internal and external experiences which manifest themselves within us as emotion. But I would suggest that one whole area of emotion has as yet found no place in our body of theory because it has been assumed to stand merely in a quantitative relation. I am speaking of passions. If we adopt Bion’s basic formulation of L, H and K, these passions would be “in love”, “in hate” and “in awe”, each with its negative counterpart, “anti-in love”, “anti-in hate” and “anti-in awe”. I think I am correct, certainly with regard to my own ideas, in stating that it has been assumed that passions were merely very intense emotions.

 

12. Dénouement

ePub

Donald Meltzer

T

his sort of book [Studies in Extended Metapsychology], which is the residue of clinical and teaching experiences rather than of any systematic research, seems a kind of compost heap. It is primarily intended to increase the fertility of the next developmental steps of others, to help them to bring to life their nascent creativity. But one also tends to hope that something alive of one’s own may be found, unexpectedly, to be growing on the heap, a clump of mushrooms or a surprise of daffodils. Does the book add up to anything other than what it claims: a series of studies illustrating the use that Bion’s ideas have found in my consulting room?

Bion himself was very opposed to a distinct “school” growing up around his ideas, perhaps partly because the adjective “Bionic” had such comic overtones of science fiction, gardening, electronics and quackery. But chiefly he felt, and I feel perhaps even more strongly, that the formation of “schools” is a miscarriage of science. It is naive to suppose that deep and significant differences exist. It is political to exploit them within the organizations of psychoanalysis. It fails to understand the impossible task of rendering in language the ineffable phenomena of the mind. And finally it shows little comprehension of the history of art and science. In so far as the metaphor of progress as forward movement is permissible, the development of art and science, or, in the case of psychoanalysis, art-science, moves forward in spiral fashion in some respects, or like a caterpillar in others. Those in the vanguard of development think they are miles ahead of the rear-guard when they reckon linearly, but they need only look sideways to see they are only inches in advance. Furthermore it is necessary for them to pause, and teach, and help the others to catch up before they can go on. If they fail to do this, their language, and soon their thought, becomes so idiosyncratic that they find they have departed from the social field and must find their way back. In a way this happened to Bion with Transformations [1965] and had to be rectified by altering his metaphors in Attention and Interpretation [1970].

 

13. Aesthetic conflict: its place in the developmental process

ePub

Donald Meltzer & Meg Harris Williams

T

he evolution of the Model of the Mind which underlies the observation and thoughts of psychoanalysts has been a quiet and covert one in many respects but its nodal points are clearly marked by the progression Freud–Abraham–Klein–Bion. What began as a hydrostatic model for the distribution of psychic energy in the spirit of nineteenth century physics, gradually shifted its analogy. The emergence of the genetic aspect brought forth the archaeological metaphor; the replacement of topography by structural imagery introduced a social comparison (the ego serving three masters); the replacement of “mechanism” by “unconscious phantasy”, the insistence on the “con-creteness of psychic reality” and the introduction of an “epistemo-philic” instinct to replace Freud’s “sexual researches of children”, shifted the biological model of the evolution of the individual mind from a Darwinian to a Lamarckian basis. By 1945 the Kleinian model had achieved this modification of the evolutionary simile of ontogeny recapitulating phylogeny, on the basis of a strengthened position for identification processes and thus of a view of development which emphasized relationship with objects rather than anything equivalent to survival of the fittest. Melanie Klein’s 1946 paper “Notes on Some Schizoid Mechanisms”, which introduced the ideas of projective identification and splitting processes, shattered the assumption of unity of the mind, which Freud had already begun to do in his paper “Splitting of the Ego in the Process of Defence” [Freud, 1940e(1938)]; it further more opened up a multiplication of the “worlds” of mental life in a way that even the “concreteness of psychic reality” had not envisaged. The Bionic transformation, which divides mental life into the symbolic and non-symbolic areas (alpha-function and beta elements), and places its emphasis on the mind as an instrument for thinking about emotional experiences, has only began to be felt in the consulting rooms. But Bion’s firm relegation of creative thought to the unconscious dream process, and his limitation of consciousness to the “organ for the perception of psychic qualities”, must in time give a decisive blow to the equation of “reason” with consciousness and profoundly alter our view of how our lives are lived. Freud’s model becomes severely modified: the ego becomes the horse, shying at every unknown object in its path, always wanting to follow in the way it has gone before; while the unconscious internal objects become the rider directing it relentlessly towards new developmental experiences. How profoundly, accordingly, does our view of the psychoanalytic process change under this model; yet in a way we seem to return full circle to Freud’s early view of resistance and compulsion to repeat, merely changing the venue of these anti-developmental forces from the repressed unconscious to the conservative conscious mind.

 

14. The place of aesthetic conflict in the analytic process

ePub

Donald Meltzer

In considering the conflict of emotion aroused by the aesthetic impact of the object, it is necessary to relate this struggle to our exist ing model of the mind in its various dimensions, in the sense of extended metapsychology. Earlier chapters have dealt mainly with the dynamic, economic, genetic and geographical aspects, but aesthetic conflict has an important relation to mental structuring also. Insofar as the conflict over the manifest exterior and the ambiguous interior of the object stirs the epistemophilic instinct, it clearly makes an important— perhaps the major—contribution to the shaping of the place of K in the balance of L, H and K in the knowledge-seeking life of the individual. Melanie Klein and Bion, in particular, have traced the importance of the qualities of the object with regard to the evolution of the superego functions of internal and external objects. The vigilance, intelligence and incorruptibility of these objects are surely the infantile basis of honesty; for long before an ethical preference can be embraced, despair of being able to deceive one’s objects enforces integrity. The policeman at one’s elbow is an essential bar to self-deception; love of the truth comes much later.

 

15. New considerations on the concept of the aesthetic conflict

ePub

Donald Meltzer

At a year’s distance from the publication of The Apprehension of Beauty [chapter 6, this volume], the author traces a historical reconstruction of the psychoanalytic journey from Freud to Bion via Melanie Klein—a route which reconsiders the relationship between psychoanalysis and art, as well as the important role of beauty in intimate relations, above all between mother and baby. Other concepts appear pertinently in Meltzer’s short essay: the theory of passions, the attack on links, infantile development as “learning from experience” which modifies significantly the attitude to childhood of those who bring up babies. The essay continues allowing the romantic poets to speak directly. The aesthetic conflict is found in the final phase of analysis, when aesthetic feelings arise together with live passions (links L, H, K) and “negative capability” (Keats) is also manifested, “which renders possible the toleration of doubt and uncertainty without irritable reaching after fact and reason”.

 

16. The geographic dimension of the mental apparatus

ePub

Donald Meltzer

In the model of the mind that I am using the geographical dimension can be subdivided, for phenomenological purposes, into six distinct areas: the external world, the womb, the interior of external objects, the interior of internal objects, the internal world, and the delusional system (geographically speaking “nowhere”). The first five subdivisions comprise areas that have psychic reality. The external world also has a concrete reality which calls forth adaptational processes, fundamentally meaningless. The delusional system is also meaningless in a different way, being delusional in its significances and bizarre in its objects.

To the outside world, beyond our adaptational moves, which are learned largely by infra-mental processes of mimicry (one dimensional) and trial-and-error, we may deploy meaning when the impact of events and objects impinges on us emotionally and are subjected to processes of imagination, that is, to symbol formation (alpha function) and thinking. But we are not limited in this matter to the impact of events and objects; we also have the capacity to deploy emotion and thus infuse with meaning, potentially, events and objects whose impact is not in themselves substantial. In The Apprehension of Beauty [Meltzer & Harris Williams, 1988] I proposed a terminology which grows out of Bion’s affect theory, plus and minus L (love), H (hate) and K (interest, knowing). I suggested that our innate response to the beauty-of-the-world, that is aesthetic responsiveness, contains an integration of all three of these positive links, L, H and K, but that the pain of the ambivalence combined with the necessity of tolerating uncertainty, makes it very difficult to hold these links together. The splitting processes bring relief by deploying the links to separate objects, thus also splitting the, self in its emotional capabilities and experiences. These splitting processes do not necessarily reduce the experiences to an adaptational level—in which thinking about meaning, which necessarily includes value, would be replaced by scheming, logic derived from basic assumptions, and actions aimed at success (triumph).

 

17. The compartments of the internal mother

ePub

Donald Meltzer

Although the clinical realizations which gave rise to the conception of the compartmentalization of the internal mother’s body go back to the early 1960s, the autism research group that finally produced Explorations in Autism [Meltzer et al., 1975], 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 [1973] where the internal compart-mentalization 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 Bion’s affect theory, plus and minus L, H and K, and the central part in the oscillations PsD, 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).

 

18. Disorders of thought

ePub

Donald Meltzer

Two years after The Claustrum [1992] Donald Meltzer returns, in a pleasantly discursive style, to the ways of function of thought processes, symbol formation and the role of truth in mental life. With the aid of two clinical cases which illustrate two different disorders of thought linked to misunderstandings of symbols. Interesting but still to be developed is the concept of “skeleton of the symbol”—differing from Bion as regards the possibility of observing symbol formation, Meltzer was pointing out the places in which symbol formation “ is interrupted and deformed”.

Bion’s theory of thinking furnished us with an instrument for thinking about thinking and we now only have to try to use it to understand how it works, where it works, and where it does not work. To summarize briefly, it starts from the idea that our mind produces thoughts that can be used for thinking. Thoughts are produced through a mysterious process which Bion called “alpha function” and which consists in the transformation of emotional experiences into symbols. These symbols are formed during dreams in the way which Freud himself called “dream work”. These dreams are therefore raised to ever higher levels of abstraction through a reflexive process, returning to nourish the mind and to promote further thought processes…. This system, which generates thoughts and which uses them for thinking, can also be interrupted at any point and the products of thinking can be used as a basis for action.

 

Load more


Details

Print Book
E-Books
Chapters

Format name
ePub
Encrypted
No
Sku
B000000020615
Isbn
9781780496139
File size
835 KB
Printing
Allowed
Copying
Allowed
Read aloud
Allowed
Format name
ePub
Encrypted
No
Printing
Allowed
Copying
Allowed
Read aloud
Allowed
Sku
In metadata
Isbn
In metadata
File size
In metadata