Introduction to the Work of Donald Meltzer

Views: 744
Ratings: (0)

Introduction to the Work of Donald Meltzer is a critical survey of Donald Meltzer's central themes which simultaneously focuses on the most important concepts of his work. This detailed volume should not only spark the reader's interest in these fascinating, yet complex, themes but also encourage readers to deepen their knowledge of them. 'I have tried to point out an aspect which, in my view, is fundamental in Meltzer's theory: that is, the possibility of communicating those typical aspects of his analytical work which go beyond the well-established and reassuring technique. Meltzer's interest constantly turns to that area which is difficult to describe in words and perhaps cannot be expressed in conventional language: the emotional area of non-verbal communication, of reverie and unconscious thinking.'- From the Preface

List price: $28.99

Your Price: $23.19

You Save: 20%

 

9 Slices

Format Buy Remix

1. Projective identification with internal objects

ePub

A. Projection and projective identification

A term that frequently recurs in Donald Meltzer’s work is that of projective identification. It is found both in this form (that is to say, according to the Kleinian definition) as well as coupled with other words in order to describe specific, sometimes pathological, situations. Before examining in this chapter the mechanism of projective identification with internal objects—one of Meltzer’s basic theoretical concepts—I shall briefly review the concept of projection in the work of Freud and that of projective identification in Melanie Klein’s and W. R, Bion’s. Many other authors have discussed projective identification, but here I refer only to those whose ideas have influenced and have been further developed in Meltzer’s work, According to the classical Freudian theory, projection is a defence mechanism in which a person attributes to others tendencies, desires, and so forth that he or she does not recognize in him/herself. In a letter to Wilhelm Fliess in 1895, Freud (1950 [1892-1899]) considers projection as normal—”if something prevents us from accepting the internal origin [of an experience] we naturally grasp at an external one”—but he also considers it as the typical defence mechanism of paranoia, in which the primary experience is repressed, projected into somebody else, only to return in the form of persecution, delusions, or hallucinations.

 

2. The psychoanalytic process

ePub

A. The setting of the analytic encounter

According to Meltzer, the psychoanalytic process consists of a sequence of phases whose evolution can be seen through the modifications in the transference. These phases follow one another according to a “natural history” of the analytic process. They can be perceived and understood when thinking over the clinical material later, rather than during the sessions. The sequence of phases that emerges from the observation of the evolution of the transference can be compared to the development of primary object relations—that is to say, from dependency to autonomy. A sequence may, sometimes, be observed within a single session, or during a week or a term. The analyst helps set the psychoanalytic process in motion and encourages the continuity of the process by creating a setting in which the transference can find expression. The setting must therefore contain certain requirements in order to favour the expression of the transference relation, as outlined below.

 

3. Sexual states of mind

ePub

A.
Basis of the theory of sexuality and of perversion

In part I of this book, we have seen how Meltzer, in his first works (1966, 1967), lays the foundations of his theory, in particular the concepts of projective identification with the internal object (which he later develops in The Claustrum, 1992) and of the psychoanalytic process as a natural process of recapitulation of the developmental phases. In the course of this process Meltzer stresses the role of separation anxiety1 and the importance of sorting out confusion between self and object, between external and internal reality, and so forth (geographical confusion) for normal development. Failure to resolve the problems of this phase—that is to say, failure to establish a separate identity—leads to serious pathology, such as narcissistic person-ality, borderline states/ psychosis, and perversions. As we have seen, Meltzer considers this phase a fundamental transition that divides sanity and mental illness.

Let us briefly review the steps for emerging from geographical confusion and establishing a separate identity:

 

4. Explorations in autism

ePub

In Explorations in Autism (Meltzer et alv 1975) Meltzer distinguishes autism proper from post-autistic residues of autism. That is to say, he differentiates between children whose development has been arrested by autism as a pathological condition and children who, having resumed their development, tend to use some of the “mental qualities” typical of autism proper. In autistic children, these mental qualities interweave and alternate so that “by recognising the qualities of mind which are peculiar to the states of functioning of such children outside the realm of autism proper, we are able to see, separately deployed, several tendencies which, when exercised in a consortium, produce the autistic state” (1975, p. 8). These “residues” (which could perhaps also be called autistic traits) are not always related to autistic psychosis in children, but may be found in different degrees (for instance, shallowness of character as a degree of bidimensionality), not only in post-autism, but also in adult neurotic, borderline, or psychotic states and, as we have seen in chapter three, in sexual perversions (where one aspect of autism—dismantling—is used to control the object).

 

5. Dream life

ePub

A.
Bion’s influence on Meltzer’s theory

After the publication of Explorations on Autism (Meltzer et alv 1975)/ Meltzer increasingly refers in his work to Bion’s theories, particularly Bion’s theory of thinking. In 1978, Meltzer published The Kleinian Development (1978c!), a series of lectures on the theories of Freud, Klein, and Bion, whom he recognized as the three main figures of psychoanalysis to have influenced him (Freud in his first approach to psychoanalysis, Klein through personal analysis with her, and Bion through the impact of his personality and ideas). The aim of The Kleinian Development, in which Meltzer tries to integrate the three theoretical constructions, is a very personal one, as he explains in the introduction: “to develop a combined psychoanalytical object under whose aegis I might hope to work creatively and courageously one day” (1978d, p. 2). It is in this perspective, it seems to me, that we need to consider his work in the period 1978-1986, which may be considered a preparation to that phase of great creativity and originality that would later be expressed in The Apprehension of Beauty (Meltzer & Harris Williams, 1988) and The Claustrum (1992). For this reason, the books of this period—like La comprensione della bellezza (1981a)1 and Studies in Extended Metapsychology (1986a), which contain some fundamental essays—sometimes, however, tend towards excessive theorization in the effort to make consistent various psychoanalytic and philosophical hypotheses. This is also evident in Dream Life (1984b), in which Meltzer applies Bion’s theory of thinking to explore the world of dreams and lays the foundations of Studies in Extended Metapsychology (1986a): to the neurophysiological model of the mind suggested by Freud, Meltzer adds Klein’s geographical model and Bion’s epistemo-logical one. Later on, we will see that he also adds his own model of the mind based on the aesthetic dimension.

 

6. The aesthetic conflict and the enigmatic inside

ePub

A. The concept of internal space

If we examine the concept of inner space from a classical psychoanalytic point of view, it is considered initially as an anatomical space referring in particular to the female genital organs.

Freud’s “Wolf Man”, quoted by Meltzer (1973b), “wishes he could be back in the womb” not simply to be reborn. As Meltzer points out Freud had the intuition that, for the child, the inside of the mother’s body is the place where copulation occurs and that this gives rise to sexual masculine and feminine phantasies with which the child identifies. However, it was Melanie Klein who first demonstrated how children’s phantasies about the inside of their mother’s body, as well as their own, created an internal world. Bion’s theory of an internal space for reverie seems to refer more to a mental inner space in which to contain and give meaning to the infant’s emotions in the course of the mother-baby relationship. In Bion’s model, the absence of the mother (one could say, the absence of the space for reverie) creates a state of frustration and depressive pain that stimulates the baby to represent her symbolically. This is the basis of thought and knowledge. Meltzer, acknowledging his debt to Klein and Bion, goes further, for his idea is that the urge for development, knowledge, and creativity springs not only from the representation of the desired absent object but from the need to discover the inside of the present object.

 

7. The claustrum: the internal world experienced from inside

ePub

A.
The inexpressible terror
of the claustrum and the uncanny

Before discussing the claustrophobic phenomena described in The Claustrum (1992), I must stress how difficult it is to describe such phenomena, which are linked to primary and very disturbing experiences. Meltzer warns us (1992, chap. 5) that the description of patients whose sense of identity has remained fixed in the infantile internal world of the claustrum may seem like a fairy-tale or the fruit of the therapist’s imagination. He maintains (quoting Wittgenstein) that the internal world of these patients cannot be described in conventional language; it is inferred through insight, countertransfer-ence, dreams, and children’s phantasies, and the language of art, music, and poetry are more appropriate. Psychoanalysis itself is considered, by Meltzer, more of an art than a science, in that it has recourse to the language of dreams and to “intuitive insights”, which, however, must be “supervised by scientific, conscious modes of observation and thought” (1992, p. 75). I believe that, for the same reasons, The Claustrum is considered a difficult book. If we wish to penetrate the meaning of what is described in this book, and Meltzer’s theoretical construction, we must enter into a fantastic and imaginary dimension and be prepared to re-experience those primitive levels in ourselves, so well depicted in the illustration by Hieronymus Bosch on the cover of Meltzer’s book. Dreams I had while reading the book helped me to capture and understand the life of the claustrum and its uncanny atmosphere. J

 

APPENDIX 1. "I've been done its way!" An interview with Donald Meltzer

ePub

Catharine Mack Smith

This conversation took place on the terrace of Dr Meltzer’s farmhouse in Tuscany. The sun had left us in peace and had settled on the green-bright chestnut forest on the hillside opposite. It was very informal, and we laughed a lot. It was continued later, off and on, in his Oxford home, in the garden, or at the kitchen table, cigarette and glass of wine at hand. Both houses are off the beaten track and are maintained with friendly neglect, in a semi-wild hilly setting.

C.M.S. You have been much interviewed recently with the coincidence of your seventy-fifth birthday and the thirtieth anniversary of The Psycho-Analytical Process. I think the readers of the Journal ofMelanie Klein and Object Relations would enjoy hearing about you and your development, something a bit more personal, though I expect you will resist any attempts of mine to put you on the couch.

D.M. Try it, and see what happens.

C.M.S. The little boy you describe was tough and sporty, not introspective nor a reader. You were a happy child who loved and respected his parents and was loved and trusted by them, the youngest of three by seven years and the only boy. You have interests and abilities that might have led you into some other field—engineering, for instance, like your father—yet at 16 you met and fell in love with psychoanalysis. This seems a rare and remarkable event, innocent somehow. Other people come to psychoanalysis via other far more tortuous and variously motivated routes.

 

APPENDIX 2. Learning from experience with Donald Meltzer

ePub

Gina Ferrara Mori

Twenty years ago, Donald Meltzer was already well known in Italy; when the Istituto Milanese di Psicoanalisi [Milan Institute of Psychoanalysis] invited him to give seminars for members and students of the Italian Psychoanalytical Society (SPI) he had already been invited several times by groups of psychotherapists and psychoanalysts, or by institutions.

At that time our Society often invited analysts who represented the cultural area that had developed within the Kleinian-Bionian school, in order to get to know, in a more direct way, theories and techniques that were causing lively discussions in our psychoanalytic milieu, determining a number of significant changes in the context of an already-promising development of ideas.

The nine seminars to which I am now referring took place in our Institute from November 1975 to March 1977, organized by L. Nissim Momigliano, F. Ciprandi, and E, Gaburri from the Milan Institute.

Wishing to gain more experience with children in the therapy-room, I asked to present one of my child patients and the difficult work I was starting with him.

 

Details

Print Book
E-Books
Slices

Format name
ePub (DRM)
Encrypted
true
Sku
9781780496962
Isbn
9781780496962
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