No Ordinary Psychoanalyst: The Exceptional Contributions of John Rickman

Views: 1347
Ratings: (0)

John Rickman had a deep impact on psychoanalysis, combining a deep knowledge thereof with an avid interest in social psychology, to the benefit of both. He was a fresh thinker, always innovative, with an extensive range of interests. This is an affectionate, incisive, intelligent paean to one of the greats of psychoanalysis.

List price: $44.99

Your Price: $35.99

You Save: 20%

 

24 Slices

Format Buy Remix

NO ORDINARY PSYCHOANALYST

ePub

 

Introduction. The rediscovery of John Rickman and his work

ePub

Pearl King

Who was John Rickman?

The Dr John Rickman whom I knew, and have since got to know better, was a psychoanalyst who combined an extraordinarily thorough knowledge of psychoanalysis with an intense interest in social processes, and he was able to throw light on some of the problems of social psychology by extending psychoanalytic concepts to cover and understand group and community problems. The setting in which his heuristic capacities flourished best was during an informal discussion group or an impromptu conversation between colleagues coming from different disciplines in the social sciences.

The creative enjoyment that John Rickman brought to such discussions was not only because of what he contributed, but also because he enabled the participants to re-experience what they had said or thought, often opening up their understanding in a way that they had not previously experienced. They were then enabled to re-evaluate themselves. Many of the letters to John that I read while editing his papers bore evidence of the impact that his way of working with colleagues had on them. I then realised how important it was for these people to have been “listened to” by John.

 

1. Developments in psychoanalysis, 1896-1947

ePub

Introduction and definition

Psychoanalysis is the name given to a method of research and therapy discovered by Freud (1896c) based on a study of “free associations” in the “transference situation” and to the body of data and theories about the unconscious mind and its relation to behaviour which that method of research and therapy discloses. A psychoanalyst is a person who uses that method of research or therapy; but speaking professionally he is a person who has been trained and registered as suitable for practice in that method in one of the Psychoanalytical Institutes recognised by the International Psychoanalytical Association (Rickman, 1951b).

Psychoanalysis deals with a part only of the field of psychology, but it contributes a part—dealing with what has been called “depth-psychology”—which cannot be clearly discerned without the use of that method of research and therapy. Just as certain classes of natural phenomena cannot be scrutinised minutely without the aid of special instruments, e.g. a microscope for small objects, a telescope for distant ones, an electroscope for electrical phenomena, so with certain mental phenomena a special “instrument” is required.

 

2. Experimental psychology and psychoanalysis: a comparison of the techniques

ePub

The aim of this paper is to consider the relation between psychology and psychoanalysis in the past and present and their possible relation in the future. Psychology has roots in two disciplines, in philosophy and in the experimental laboratory, psychoanalysis in one—clinical medicine. I think it would be simpler if we left the connection of psychology with philosophy out of our discussion, because for reasons that soon will be apparent the issues can be narrowed down to workable dimensions if we consider the contrasts and similarities between experimental psychology and psychoanalysis.

Let us begin with an exceedingly simple situation in the Experimental Psychological Laboratory.

The situation in an Experimental Psychological Laboratory

The first and most obvious thing is that an experiment is going to be performed by the experimenter on the subject, but it is not going to be done to find out something about the subject personally, or his particular mind, but about a mental function possessed by him as by thousands of others. The experimenter knows within limits what is going to happen and so within limits does the subject; measured stimuli will be given and the responses will be measured. Experimenter and subject participate in the experiment with awakened attention, and both are aware that the experiment can be repeated over and over again. Both can, and usually do, play the part of observers. The subject is asked after the experiment to make notes on his introspections and sensory or motor experiences at the time of the experiment. The experimenter observes the subject’s behaviour in general or towards the apparatus at the time of the experiment. I want to stress that this temporal aspect, the stimulus and the response and the introspective experiences are all concerned with the present. The typical experiment deals with stimulus and response rather in the manner of eliciting a reflex. Indeed, the mind may be pictured as a reflex apparatus with a perceptual end, which receives a measured stimulus, and with a motor end that has to press a button. The experimental psychologist wants to study the motor or perceptual functions of the organism in its response to the external world. Psychologist and subject are dealing with external relations, usually of a rather impersonal kind; if they do deal with personal relationships, it is a matter of objective observation.

 

3. Scientific method and psychoanalysis

ePub

It is worth while to recapitulate principles of scientific method in their application to the theory of psychoanalysis, even though in doing so one may seem to be returning to the intellectual nursery. I do feel strongly, however, that we can never be too clear about the conditions which must be fulfilled if our theory is to continue to deserve the name of science, nor too acutely aware of the difficulties of fulfilling them that are inherent in analysis.

The ground-plan of scientific method in the so-called natural sciences since the days of Bacon has been observation of data, leading to the perception of likenesses and differences, sequences and relationships among them, i.e. classification or grouping. Minimal hypotheses are formulated in the attempt to co-ordinate and explain these observations. In the last century it would have been said that these explanations were the result of pure reason, i.e. conscious logical inference from the particular to the general, but we know now that the process is seldom as simple as this. Unconscious factors are involved, issuing in what we call acts of creative imagination unconsciously inspired logic. This is . the region in which science and art appear to meet. The hypothesis itself remains an attempt to provide a logical, consistent and adequate explanation of the data observed, and once formulated it has to be verified, to be tested in relation to as wide a range of old and new data as can be achieved. All the paraphernalia of experiment in science is directed to increasing the range and accuracy of observation and to the trying-out of hypotheses.

 

4. Number and the human sciences

ePub

Suppose one of those of t-spoken-of but seldom-met travellers from Mars had visited us to satisfy his native curiosity about psychology: he would find a state of affairs that might at first seem somewhat puzzling. In the write-up of his field work he would report on one-person psychology, two-person psychology, three-person psychology, possibly a four-person psychology, and a multi-person psychology; what would strike him most would of course be the interrelation of those aspects of the subject.

“The break-up of the whole field of psychology into categories according to the minimum number of persons essential to the study of each branch of the subject is the first thing that strikes the visitor”, he might write in his thesis, adding that distressing confusions sometimes occurred because these simple categories were thought to be irrelevant to the study of detail by the practitioners of each category and the Implications so disconcerting that they were generally ignored.

One-person psychology

 

5. First aid in psychotherapy

ePub

On first reflection it may seem odd that there is no literature on first aid in psychotherapy comparable with that in general medicine. This omission cannot be explained on the ground that emergencies in mental life are very rare and that when they occur they are trivial. We know that they are occasions of the greatest discomfort to the general practitioner and that he dreads nothing in his patient’s illnesses more than a nervous breakdown. The dread is all the greater because he has no technique for dealing with the emergency except either to call in a specialist or to certify the patient, or to recommend a sea voyage for the patient. The general practitioner may look forward with some misgiving if called to a bad roadside smash; his aid may be called in too late and the injuries may be severe or his skill hindered by darkness or cold weather, but at least he knows how to set about his work, he can do something. In psychological crises he often feels helpless from the very start.

The many reasons for this feeling of helplessness have often been considered; first there is the lack of preparation in the curriculum; second, the fact that what training is provided consists of the exhibition of incurable cases in a distant and forbidding institution, instead of the demonstration of everyday mental disorders in the wards and outpatient department; and thirdly, the lectures centre on the symptoms of the medico-legal disorders called insanity and the medicolegal restrictions which may be imposed on the sufferers. The atmosphere is thus so charged with crisis and hopelessness that it is little wonder the student and practitioner look on acute mental illness as the bugbear of professional life.

 

6. The psychiatric interview in the social setting of a War Office Selection Board

ePub

The theme of this paper is the “Psychiatric Interview in the Social Setting of a War Office Selection Board”. The words “in the Social Setting” are important, because the psychiatrist was a technical member of a team of observers, who were regarded by the candidates collectively as a board. The members of the board were a group whose component units were necessary to one another for information and advice, The candidates were also necessary to one another because one of the characteristic features of the selection method employed by the War Office Selection Board was the assessment of qualities of personality as displayed in a group relationship.

It is perhaps well to bring these points forward prominently at an early stage, because when joining a WOSB team, the psychiatrist has to make some adaptations of his usual approach to his subject. For that matter, the other members of the Board have also to learn to discard the traditional picture of the psychiatrist as an alienist and to see him as a technical adviser, whose main function is to assess the positive (constructive) qualities of candidates from a medical (psychiatric) standpoint, and also to point out, where there is any doubt, the negative (obstructive or destructive) qualities in the candidates as viewed from the point of their group or social relationship.

 

7. The influence of the "social field" on behaviour in the interview situation

ePub

It is sometimes permitted in scientific work to use the broadest or, if you prefer, the crudest generalisations if by so doing a new point of view be thus obtained and a new basis established for making more exact observations. Two such crude generalisations will now be considered; both employ the concept of “psychological or social movement”.

We can simplify the relation of the organism to its objects, to one of simple positive or negative “tropisms” or movements. If the object is “good” the organism desires to approach it, to hold it within its grasp, to have more of it, to wish that its like may never perish from the earth. We might say that in certain cases the organism “loves” that object, or simplifying still further we can say that the relation is a “positive” one. If the object is “bad” the organism desires to put a distance between the object and itself, to shun it, to have less of it, to wish that its like may perish from the earth. We might say that in certain cases the organism “hates” the object, or simplifying still further we can say the relation is a “negative” one.

 

8. The technique of interviewing in anthropology and psychoanalysis

ePub

The study of the technique of interviewing is a difficult, and I think a very important undertaking, for it is one of the main methods by which we collect the data used in the human sciences. Anthropologists in the main, from the data they choose and collect, describe the structure and function of social communities; I, as a psychiatrist specialising in psychoanalysis, am employed by people who are aware of their lack of adjustment, or by relatives of these people, to effect a better harmony with themselves and between themselves and the community in which they live; that is, my job is to produce a change of function,

Anthropology may be called pure research. In my kind of work, the answers to questions I want to put must come second to the need to find a solution to the patient’s problems. I would hesitate to apply such a lordly title as “research” to the method I use, were it not for the fact that something essential to the research worker is a necessary ingredient in the attitude of those who follow it.

 

9. Does it take all kinds to make a world? Uniformity and diversity in communities

ePub

I would like to explore the question implicit in the title of this paper, ‘‘Does it take all kinds to make a world?” If we are philosophers, we shall say that there are only two answers, either it does or it does not; but perhaps this answer is rather too simple. This question is a problem which is not only of importance in the immediate present, but is, I think, one of the major problems that humanity will always have to deal with.

We see at the present time two tendencies in political life: on the one hand, there is a movement to induce all of the members of a group to hold identical opinions on political and social questions; on the other hand, there is a tendency to preserve diversity in political and social life. In the one case, the ideal is a single-party system; in the other, the conception of a multi-party system as essential to the political life of the community. I am not concerned here with the question, which of the two is the better system, I am only concerned to enquire what kind of satisfaction each brings to the members of the group, and what factors may play a part in causing the acceptance or rejection of either position. But before I go on to discuss the matter in more detail, it should be remembered that we find the same two tendencies in other fields than politics. In some schools, for instance, it is considered healthy for every boy to show enthusiasm for games, even if he has no inclination to do so, otherwise he will let down his school; in another institution, a boy will let down his school only if he does nothing at all, and provided that he is productive in his own way the group-spirit is satisfied. In religion we find just the same. For example, there are strong forces towards the formation of sects and at the same time towards having a Universal Catholic Church.

 

10. Panic and anxiety reactions in groups during air raids

ePub

Definitions

Since air raids may produce panic in the civilian population it is well to consider the factors that facilitate or diminish panic, and what steps, if any, may be taken against it. First let me quote definitions of relevant words.

Fright, fear, apprehension are incorrectly used as synonymous expressions: in their relations to danger they admit of quite clear distinction. … Fear requires a definite object of which one is afraid; fright is the name of a condition to which one is reduced if one encounters a danger without being prepared for it; it lays stress on the element of surprise. [Freud, 1920g]

Anxiety has an unmistakable affinity with expectation: it is anxiety about something. It has a quality of indefiniteness and lack of object. In precise speech we use the word “fear” rather than “anxiety” if the feeling has found an object. [Freud, 1926d]

Anxiety can be a more or less normal phenomenon or it may be neurotic.

Objective danger is a danger that is known, and objective anxiety is an anxiety about a known danger of this sort. Neurotic anxiety is anxiety about an unknown danger. Neurotic danger is thus a danger that has still to be discovered. [Freud, 1921c]

 

11. On the development of professional and unprofessional attitudes

ePub

Doctors are not the only professionals who find themselves faced with unprofessional rivals, and it should be possible to discover general features of this situation, whether the direction of the activity be the administration of medicine, the drawing up of a deed or an audit, the building of a house or a bridge, the planning of a campaign or the cure of souls.

The present-day professions may be arranged in a series according as they are related to the laws of nature on the one hand or to the customs of men on the other. Thus, we have at one extreme the physicians with their close connection with the disciplines of biochemistry and biology, and at the other extreme the accountants and lawyers whose minds are turned to the intricacies arising from the interplay of human interests, and who have not such a direct connection with science as have the physicians and engineers. This serial classification of the professions shows us at a glance that the criterion used in this paper to distinguish the mental qualities of the unprofessional practitioner cannot be employed with an equal ease in the case of all professions, for they do not all rest on a similar mental basis or share a common history.

 

12. Intra-group tensions in therapy: their study as the task of the group

ePub

The term “group therapy” can have two meanings. It can refer to the treatment of a number of individuals assembled for special therapeutic sessions, or it can refer to a planned endeavour to develop in a group the forces that lead to smoothly running co-operative activity.

The therapy of individuals assembled in groups is usually in the nature of explanation of neurotic trouble, with reassurance; and sometimes it turns mainly on the catharsis of public confession. The therapy of groups is likely to turn on the acquisition of knowledge and experience of the factors which make for a good group spirit.

A scheme for rehabilitation

In the treatment of the individual, neurosis is displayed as a problem of the individual. In the treatment of a group it must be displayed as a problem of the group. This was the aim I set myself when I was put in charge of the training wing of a military psychiatric hospital. My first task therefore was to find out what the pursuit of this aim would mean in terms of time-table and organisation.

 

13. Disruptive forces in group relations: war as a makeshift therapy

ePub

About twenty-five years ago an even then fairly well known psychoanalyst giving advice on how the patient should be introduced into the analytic situation said among other things that he should be reassured that what he said would be treated as confidential and that as he (the analyst) did not drink there was no risk of his breaking secrecy by talking in his cups.

Such crude reassurances are surely never or but seldom given today even by those who are beginning a freelance career in self-taught analytic therapy. The reason why the instance given seems to us now so shocking is also a measure of our appreciation of what a good research and therapeutic instrument was thereby imperilled—that remark sullied the future clarity of the transference situation. (In parenthesis we may reflect that in the quarter century the most important events in the field of research into the psychology of the individual have been in the direction of clarifying our ideas on the transference situation.)

With that said by way of preface, I want to refer to a remark I heard when a (commissioned) group therapist opened a series of group therapy sessions with a new batch of soldier patients in a Military Hospital. He said among other things “You can say what you like here, for within these four walls we are not in the Army!”

 

14. Some psychodynamic factors behind

ePub

The unconscious need for war

War is an event which almost all people profess to loathe, and yet it is of frequent occurrence. In an attempt to explain this state of affairs it seems reasonable to assume that there are unconscious factors in its causation analogous, perhaps, to the neurotic compulsions which are beyond the conscious control of the individual. If we look at the reasons why nations go to war, we find that participants on both sides are firmly convinced that they are fighting for some ideal and for the defence of some idealised object. They each feel that the right is on their side and that their opponents are wicked and ruthless. The enemy is felt to be “bad” and to be the “cause” of the troubles while “our side” becomes the embodiment of all that is good and noble.

There is present, in such situations, an excessive need on the part of the combatants to attribute to each other their own aggressive impulses or desires, which for some reason had become too intolerable or disruptive to deal with through intra-group mechanisms. It is this projective mechanism which appears to facilitate the outbreak of hostilities and which deserves careful study.

 

tensions that cause wars

ePub

If asked to reduce the content of what follows to its original sources I should indicate six “events” in the history of mental dynamics. The first concerns Freud’s work: he did not run away from his patients’ problems, he listened to their neurotic complaints; by virtue of his genius he hit on a key (the best so far found) for tracing the connection between conscious and unconscious mental processes, and from the application of that discovery is derived the greater part of our understanding of the psychodynamics of the individual. The third event (numbered in chronological order) is Freud’s excursion into anthropology in Totem and Taboo (1912-13) which linked behaviour in social life with processes occurring in the development of the individual. The fourth event was Freud’s Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego (1921c), in which the ties binding the group together are discussed with reference to the impulses of love and the growth of the superego (sometimes called conscience).

The second event is a technical point of importance in therapy and of great interest to all research workers in the psychological and social field, i.e. the extent to which the events in the psychoanalytic treatment situation relate to the patient’s transferring into the present all of the unsolved emotional problems of the past; the date for this event being about 1909. This can be restated in the more modern terms of Gestalt closure, but the gist of it is that such is the nature of our mental life (and if we did not have the insight and the technical equipment of thought we could always see it) that every detail of our behaviour is a resultant on the one hand of the working out of unsolved past problems and on the other of an endeavour to find satisfaction for present needs. (If the reader at this point is inclined to remark that everyone but an ass has thought this from time immemorial, my reply is that it is one thing to think it to be true, it may be quite another thing to shape your own behaviour as it if were true.) This event cannot be referred to a single paper or book, it is, rather, a gradually dawning and extending understanding of a phenomenon of the mind.

 

15. A study of Quaker beliefs

ePub

Recent discoveries have thrown light on some aspects of religious belief which had hitherto been obscure. For about a quarter of a century psychoanalysts have been in possession of hypotheses which have enabled us to connect the majority of religious systems with other and better-known mental phenomena of health and illness. But there were certain religious beliefs and practices which were difficult to “place”. Chief among these was Quakerism. In the last ten years, however, our knowledge of certain fundamental processes has progressed, largely owing to the researches of Melanie Klein, who has applied Freud’s discoveries to the investigation of the minds of young children (Klein, 1932), so that we are now enabled to bring some light to the study of even this obscure problem.

In this paper my concern is far more to extend the application of scientific hypotheses and to increase the number of connections between the phenomena of religion and those of the rest of human life, than to make an ambitious attempt to discover “Transcendental Truth” about Quakerism or anything else.

 

Load more


Details

Print Book
E-Books
Slices

Format name
ePub (DRM)
Encrypted
true
Sku
9781780496689
Isbn
9781780496689
File size
0 Bytes
Printing
Disabled
Copying
Disabled
Read aloud
No
Format name
ePub
Encrypted
No
Printing
Allowed
Copying
Allowed
Read aloud
Allowed
Sku
In metadata
Isbn
In metadata
File size
In metadata