Medium 9781855759060

Conversations at the Frontier of Dreaming

Views: 935
Ratings: (0)

'The sources of human creativity have always been mysterious. In this brilliant new contribution, Thomas Ogden explores the interface of dreams, reverie, poetry, and play. In so doing, he leads us to new understandings about both creativity and the analytic conversations we have with our patients and ourselves.' Glen O. Gabbard, M.D.

List price: $31.99

Your Price: $25.59

You Save: 20%

Remix
Remove
 

8 Chapters

Format Buy Remix

1. Conversations at the Frontier of Dreaming

ePub

This is a book of conversations: spoken, unspoken, and yet-to-be-spoken conversations between (and within) analysts and their patients; imaginary and real conversations (the imaginary ones, such as dreaming and reverie, being often the most real); wordless conversations between poets and the poems they make, and between poems and the readers they make; conversations between feelings and thoughts, and between thoughts and words; conversations between the inexpressible and the expressible, a distance mediated by metaphor, by the sounds and cadences of words and sentences, and by images and gestures (verbal and otherwise); and, of course, the conversation between us, reader and writer, a conversation that derives life from all of the other conversations, and imparts life to them.

And, as if by accident (but it is certainly not a matter of chance), the very word conversation is in conversation with itself, spawning metaphors as it goes. The word conversation is “fossil poetry” (Emerson 1844, p. 231), derived from the conjunction of the Latin words cum, meaning with or together, and versus, meaning a row or furrow of earth; the movement of a plough turning back on itself as it ends one row and begins the next; and a line of poetry or other writing. Conversation is a word that has preserved in itself a chorus of accumulated meanings that speak both from the experience of opening the earth for purposes of impregnating/planting and from the experience of entering into language for purposes of communicating with ourselves and others. Thus, conversation is an act of engaging with another person in the work of creating man-made lines, lines of furrowed soil reflecting mankind’s timeless effort to survive by taming and freeing the earth and Nature. At the same time, conversation is an act that reflects man’ s equally timeless effort to tame and to free himself (his own human nature) by transforming raw experience into words and gestures to communicate with others and with himself. There is nothing more fundamentally, more distinctively human than the need to converse. As innumerable observational studies of infants have demonstrated, we depend for our lives upon conversation (both in terms of our physical survival and in terms of our coming humanly to life).

 

2. Reverie and Metaphor: Some Thoughts on How I Work as a Psychoanalyst

ePub

T. S. Eliot said of good writing, “We cannot say at what point technique begins or where it ends” (Pritchard 1994, p. 11). I think something similar could be said of psychoanalysis when it is going well. It is not staged, pre-scribed, or formulaic. But it is far easier to say what it is not than what it is. To explain to oneself how one works as a psychoanalyst, how one conceives of what one is doing in the consulting room, and what one aspires to in one’s work is a lifelong task. What follows is part of that ongoing, always tentative, always incomplete dialogue with myself. The loosely knit “excerpts” from that dialogue that I will present here address specific aspects of psychoanalytic work, and in no sense comprise a comprehensive, balanced statement of a theory of technique. Rather, the thoughts presented are heavily weighted in the direction of aspects of analytic technique and practice that are currendy of most interest to me (perhaps because I understand them least well),

I.

In any given analytic interaction, a compelling argument could be made for a variety of understandings of what is occurring, and an equally varied array of possible responses on the part of the analyst could be defended. A critical aspect of the way I locate myself among the possible understandings and responses involves my effort to attend to my sense of what, if anything, feels most alive, most real, in what is transpiring. The words “alive” and “real” are always in motion, always “on the wing” (James 1890, p. 253), and seem to defy, as if willfully, attempts to define and delimit their meanings. Despite this (or, more likely, because of it), I find these words useful in describing a quality of immediacy and vitality of personal experience upon which I rely in my attempts to talk to myself and to the analysand about what I sense is going on between us.

 

3. A Question of Voice

ePub

In this chapter, I address the question of voice in an effort to explore an aspect of listening and speaking that I believe to be pivotal to the analytic experience. Creating a voice with which to speak or to write might be thought of as a way, perhaps the principal way, in which an individual brings himself into being, comes to life, through his use of language. This conception of voice applies to all forms of language usage, whether in poetry, in fiction, in prose, in drama, in the analytic dialogue, or in everyday conversation.

There is a vast difference between thinking, on the one hand, and speaking or writing, on the other. In speech and in writing, one listens to oneself in a way that is different from the way one experiences one’s own thinking. Wallace Stevens (recounted by Vendler 1984) has said that one thinks in one’s own language; one writes in a foreign language. I believe that Stevens is referring to the way writing (and I would add speech) entails a quality of otherness that affords us an opportunity to hear how we come into being in the way we use language.1

 

4. "The Music of What Happens" in Poetry and Psychoanalysis. 77

ePub

There are the mud-flowers of dialect
And the immortelles of perfect pitch
And that moment when the bird sings very close
To the music of what happens.

S. Heaney, “Song,” 1979

In this chapter, I will be asking the reader to do something a litde different. I ask the reader to listen to his listening: that is, to listen to the ways he listens, and hears me listening, to a poem; and then to compare those “soundings” to the ways he listens, and hears me listening, to an analytic session, I will try to stay out of the reader’s way as he or she does this work, and only at the end of the chapter will I offer some thoughts about what I currendy think listening to and saying a poem have to do with listening to and speaking with a patient in analysis.

Before turning to Frost’s (1928a) “Acquainted with the Night” and to a session from the twelfth year of an analysis, I will make a few introductory comments. Over the course of the past fifty years, there have been a number of important shifts in the theory and practice of psychoanalysis. Among them is an increasing awareness that the most interesting and productive avenues of analytic inquiry seem no longer to be adequately addressed by the question, “What does that mean?”—that symptom, that set of dream images, that acting out, that rageful response to the sound of the analyst’s coughing, and so on. An inquiry into personal meanings has become inseparable from an understanding of the unconscious intersubjective context in which those meanings are generated. Consequently, the question “What does that mean?” has gradually expanded so as to increase greatly the emphasis on such questions as: “What’s going on here?” “What’s happening between us consciously and unconsciously and how does that relate to other aspects of the patient’s (and the analyst’s) past and present experience, both real and imagined?” With this shift in our conception of the analytic process comes the need for a commensurate change in the way we use language to speak to ourselves and to our patients. It seems to me that we must develop a capacity to use language in a way that does justice not only to the task of understanding and interpreting the conscious and unconscious meanings of our patients’ experience; in addition, our use of language must be equal to the task of capturing and conveying in words a sense of “what’s going on here”—in the intrapsychic and intersubjective life of the analysis, the “music of what happens” in the analytic relationship.

 

5. Borges and the Art of Mourning

ePub

Every poem, in time, becomes an elegy.

J. L. Borges, “Possession of Yesterday/’ 1982

And now Borges—for him the entire universe is in every one of its particles; all of literature in every book ever written and yet to be written. This book of conversations at the frontier of dreaming would be sorely lacking without the sound of Borges’s voice,

In this chapter, I attempt to learn about mourning as it comes to life in the conversation between Jorge Luis Borges, the man of letters, and Borges, the man in letters—the speaker/character/voice in his writing. In particular, I will be exploring the idea that mourning is not simply a form of psychological work; it is a process centrally involving the experience of making something, creating something adequate to the experience of loss. What is “made,” and the experience of making it—which together might be thought of as “the art of mourning”— represent the individual’s effort to meet, to be equal to, to do justice to, the fullness and complexity of his or her relationship to what has been lost, and to the experience of loss itself.

 

6. Re-Minding the Body

ePub

There is little in the practice of psychoanalysis more perplexing (or more interesting) to me than the question of how experiences in analysis facilitate the healthy development of the patient’s sense of being alive in his or her body. In health, the experience of being bodied and the experience of being minded are inseparable qualities of the unitary experience of being alive. Achieving this kind of sense of aliveness is particularly problematic when early childhood experience (whether precipitated by constitutional hypersensitivity, inadequate maternal provision, or trauma) has led the individual to create a pathological form of mindedness that is disconnected from experiences in the body. Under such circumstances, thinking tends to be anxiously preoccupied with the achievement of absolute self-sufficiency: in the realms of both bodily sensations and internal and external object relations (Gaddini 1987; McDougall 1974; Tustin 1986; Winnicott 1949,1952). This goal is pursued by hypertrophied mental activity designed to anticipate, understand, explain, measure, create, and annihilate (and in all these ways omnipotently control) everything that happens in the experience of the body, as well as in relationships to external and internal objects. This sort of defensive mental activity feels disconnected from the body: sensations stemming from the body so threaten to overwhelm the individual that not only his sanity, but his very being, are felt to be under siege.

 

7. An Elegy, a Love Song and a Lullaby

ePub

Prose states; poetry merely suggests. Poetry suggests because what it suggests cannot be stated. So it is to poetry that I turn, in this and several of the other chapters of this volume, in an effort to glean for myself and the reader a sense—and no more than a sense—of essences of important human experiences. The sense of an essence that we glean from a poem, if the poem is a good one, is not already there (“inside” the reader or “inside” the poem) waiting to be illuminated; it is newly created each time, not only in the medium of words, but just as important, in the medium of someone else’s words. And that experience of being spoken by another person as one speaks him is a very large part of what is extraordinary and surprising and disturbing about poetry. We are known as we had not known ourselves because, up to that point, we had not been ourselves as fully as we are becoming in experiencing the poem and as the poem experiences us. Similarly in the analytic relationship, patient and analyst as individuals each read and are read by the unconscious of the other. As a result, when the analysis is going well each participant is being known as he has not known himself—because he has not been as fully himself before.

 

8. Reading Winnicott

ePub

Psychoanalysis in its first century has had several great thinkers, but, to my mind, only one great English-speaking writer: D. W. Winnicott. Because style and content are so interdependent in his writing, his papers are not well served by thematic reading aimed exclusively at gleaning what the paper is “about” Such efforts often result in trivial aphorisms. Winnicott, for the most part, does not use language to arrive at conclusions; rather, he uses language to create experiences in reading that are inseparable from the ideas he is presenting—or, more accurately, the ideas he is playing with.

I offer here a reading of Winnicott’s (1945) “Primitive Emotional Development”: a paper containing the seeds of virtually every major contribution to psychoanalysis that he would make over the course of the succeeding twenty-six years of his life, I hope to demonstrate the interdependence of the life of the ideas being developed and the life of the writing in this seminal contribution to the analytic literature. What Winnicott’s paper has to offer to an analytic reader could not be said in any other way (which is to say that the writing is extraordinarily resistant to paraphrase). It is my experience that an awareness of the way the language is working significantly enhances what one can learn from reading Winnicott.

 

Details

Print Book
E-Books
Chapters

Format name
ePub
Encrypted
No
Sku
B000000020703
Isbn
9781780497068
File size
298 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