Medium 9780946439331

Thrills and Regressions

Views: 1335
Ratings: (0)

Contents: Part One - Thrills; Part Two - Regressions; Part Three: Appendix; Part Four - Conclusions. This book includes the paper "Distance in Time and Space" by Enid Balint.

List price: $31.99

Your Price: $25.59

You Save: 20%

Remix
Remove
 

14 Slices

Format Buy Remix

I Funfairs and Thrills

ePub

FUNFAIRS exist all over the world, from Bombay to San Francisco and from Alaska to New Zealand. Being so universal, they must respond to some essential human needs, We may even add, knowing what funfairs are, that the essential human needs they satisfy must stem from rather primitive layers of the mind.

Funfairs mean a break in the daily routine, in the exacting discipline of working life. They bring about an easing-offof the strict rules governing the life of society. In this sense they offer something akin to all other ‘holidays’. They have, however, special features which are peculiar to funfairs alone. These are represented partly by the kind of amusements and pleasures they offer, and partly by the way people feel towards these amusements and pleasures and behave when enjoying them.

The traditional pleasures found at funfairs may be classified under several headings. My list is certainly incomplete, but I hope it includes the most important items, (a) Food; () aggressive pleasures, such as throwing or shooting at things, smashing things up, etc.; (c) pleasures connected with dizziness, vertigo, impairment or loss of stability, such as swings, roundabouts, switchbacks; (d) various shows similar to but more primitive and cruder than those offered in circuses and theatres; (e) games of chance, either offered openly as such or slightly camouflaged as games of skill, the chances being usually heavily loaded against the player and the prizes offered hardly worth the stake; (f) soothsayers; (g) lastly, a comparative new-comer, the slot machine, offering either various peepshows or games of chance. In this chapter I shall discuss at any length only the first three kinds of these pleasures, in the hope that the results will throw some light on the other groups as well. The main discussion will be centred on the pleasures involving giddiness,

 

II Philobatism and Ocnophilia

ePub

THE introduction of new words calls for justification; their usefulness has to be proved. I propose to do this in two ways. I intend to show, first, that by using these two terms we can discuss certain human experiences more easily than without them; and, secondly, that in this way we can better understand these experiences and their dynamism. Let us therefore briefly survey what we already know about thrills; that is, philobatism and ocnophilia. This will help us at the same time to clear our way for the next step, since this survey will bring us to the point which our theory of these phenomena has reached.

Let us start with the children’s games. As I have said, the zone of security is always called either ‘home’ or ‘house’, which points to its being a symbol for the safe mother. We have seen also that all thrills entail the leaving and rejoining of security. The pleasures experienced in either of these two phases—that is, either when staying in security or when leaving it in order to return to it—are very primitive, self-evident, and apparently in no need of explanation—although it must be stated that not every adult can enjoy them equally. True, some adults seem to be at ease only when in the state of stable security; others, on the contrary, enjoy leaving it in search of adventures and thrills and show signs of boredom and irritation if they have to forgo them for any length of time. Somehow, however, correctly or incorrectly, one gets the impression that ocnophilia might be the older and more primitive of the two attitudes. Later we shall have to examine more closely how far this impression is misleading.

 

III Object Relationships and Anxieties

ePub

As a preliminary step, I wish to use for discussion rather extreme forms both of ocnophilia arid philobatism, which of course are rare. In fact, these extreme cases are hardly ever met with in reality; what we are commonly confronted with are varied mixtures of the two object relationships to be described; where one attitude may be used to repress or even over-compensate the other in various combinations in the various layers of the mind.

First let us take ocnophilia, where some object relationship is unconditional and the involvement of fear obvious. This state of affairs is admirably expressed by the Greek word dxvda) chosen to describe this attitude. Its meaning is ‘to cling to’, ‘to shrink’, ‘to hesitate’, ‘to hang back’, with the implicit meaning that this happens because of fear, shame, or pity in relation to an object. Obviously there must be an object available, otherwise the individual cannot cling. Accordingly the ocnophilic world consists of objects, separated by horrid empty spaces. The ocnophil lives from object to object, Cutting his sojourns in the empty spaces as short as possible. Fear is provoked by leaving the objects, and allayed by rejoining them.

 

IV Aggressivity and Auto-erotism

ePub

THE popular words used to describe the various giddy amusements and pleasures in funfairs will offer us a good starting-point. ‘Swing’ is an old Teutonic word, whose original meaning was ‘to swing a weapon’, later any other contrivance, and still later, in the intransitive sense, ‘to swing on a rope’. This evolution was achieved fairly early, as by about 1500 ‘swing’ already meant, in the colloquial sense, to hang or to be hanged. ‘Switch’ is a cognate word with ‘swish’; its original meaning was to brandish a weapon causing a high-pitched noise, from which there developed the intransitive sense of being brandished. ‘Thrill’, cognate with ‘thirl’, meant to pierce, to penetrate, to bore something, again causing a high-pitched sound. Corresponding to these highly aggressive meanings, philobatic people are usually imagined as robust, upstanding, conquering heroes, enjoying their independence, unflinchingly facing dangers, and defiantly going their own way.

This element of aggressiveness is undoubtedly present in all philobatic activities. Still it remains problematic how this aggressiveness towards objects described by transitive verbs turned into the activity described by intransitive verbs. In other words, how the active voice turned, not into the passive but the middle voice: ‘I swing (something)’ became not ‘I am swung’ but ‘I swing myself’, i.e. ‘I swing’. The state described by this middle voice, or intransitive form, is reminiscent of primary love previously mentioned. There is no clash between the subject and his object; on the contrary, there is complete harmony. ‘I swing myself = ‘My primary object swings me’ = ‘I swing’. One would be equally justified in stating either that there is no aggressiveness in this action or that the aggressiveness has been turned outward towards the world, or that the aggressiveness has been turned inward towards the self. All three mutually exclusive descriptions are equally true, as ought to be the case with a primitive undifferentiated relationship. That all three statements about this primitive form of aggressiveness are equally true is usually overlooked by certain theoreticians of psycho-analysis. Contentedly they point out that one or the other of these statements is true for describing a primitive state, and use this part-truth as a convincing argument for their particular thesis. Neglecting the fact that all three descriptions are simultaneously and equally true permits them to pass over the important phase of primary love, which alone can explain this simultaneity and equivalence.

 

V Love and Hate

ePub

THE words ocnophil and philobat were deliberately chosen so that each should contain the root ‘phiP, which means love. By this I wanted to call attention to the fact that to my mind the two states are not opposites, although at first glance they appear to be so. It would be easy to be misled by the fact that the ocnophil needs his objects and the philobat avoids them, or that the philobat loves his friendly expanses and the ocnophil abhors them, and to infer that either of these two sentiments is the negative of the other. A similar mistake was made in the beginnings of our theory of the instincts, when we assumed, for example, that sadism and masochism were true opposites. In order to avoid a repetition of this mistake, I must emphasise that ocnophilia and philo-batism are not opposites; they are two different attitudes, possibly developing or, so to speak, branching off from the same stem.

Especially must I warn against considering one type as mainly loving and the other as mainly hating. This would be a gross mistake, as both types are loving and hating at the same time. What we must examine is what kind of love and what kind of hatred we encounter in each of the two types.

 

VI Reality Testing

ePub

IT is obvious that neither the philobat nor the ocnophil is fully justified in his picture of the world. They both rely on faults and omissions in their testing of reality. If it were not so, we should all enjoy—or abhor—in the same way the same pleasures and the same thrills.

We must now turn to the question of what enables one to maintain, against the testimony of one’s experience, that there are people who hold the exactly opposite view—that, for instance, roundabouts are either highly enjoyable or, on the contrary, horrid. The answer is that to a certain extent everyone mixes up external reality with his own internal world; that is to say, we all take our reactions and attitudes at any one time as proper and trustworthy indicators of what actually is happening in the external world. It would be easy to call this mixing up of external and internal realities a survival from the narcissistic period which tries to form the world in its own image. Although to some extent this is true, our problem remains unanswered; we have still to find out how this faulty reality testing is possible and why it persists in an adult.

 

VII Object and Subject

ePub

OBJECT, and for that matter subject too, are not quite exact and rather aggressive renderings of much gentler, unaggressive Greek words. The Greek originals were created by the philosopher-grammarians of the Stoic school and, it should be added, rather late in the day. Almost all the classical Greek literature as we know it was already extant. The Homeric epics, the tragedies of Sophocles, Euripides, and Aeschylus, the comedies of Aristophanes, the histories of Thucydides and Xenophon, all the beautiful poetry of Pindar, Sappho, Anacreon, etc., even the dialogues of Plato, had long been written when Aristotle, and after him the Stoa, started to tidy up our ways of thinking and speaking about things and events. For them the main thing in any statement about an act or a state was the verb. The thing or person about which the statement was made was called , which literally means ‘that which lies under’. The Latin translation substituted ‘being thrown’ instead of ‘lying’, and created ‘subject’, literally meaning ‘that which is thrown under’ (an action or a statement). The other person or thing to which the action or statement extends was called or , meaning literally ‘that which lies against or athwart’. This was translated into Latin as ‘object’, in the same aggressive way, meaning, ‘that which is thrown at or athwart’ (an action or a statement).

 

VIII Flying Dreams and the Dream Screen

ePub

I WISH to emphasise that—with the exception of the theoretical discussion in the previous chapter—up to this point only experiences with grown-ups have been used. Conversely this means that all the observations on which my arguments have been based belong to the verbal period, and thus can be easily verified or refuted by analytic practice. It is only at this point that I have to go farther, and use my findings to infer from them what might happen in pre-verbal periods— that is, in early childhood and in deeply regressed states.

This is a more uncertain, more controversial, field, as we all know. The cause of this uncertainty is the dependence of the subject, baby or patient, on his environment—that is, on the observer. In both situations—earliest childhood, highly regressed patient—the dependence on the environment is an essential factor, and if we were to try to avoid or overcome it we should destroy exactly what we set out to observe. Conversely it means that a highly important constituent of what we observe is our own contribution. Moreover, the younger the baby, the more regressed the patient, the more important we are for him, and the greater will be the influence of our emotional participation, and of our theoretical expectations, on what will happen in these highly dependent states. An awkward enough situation, which is made still more awkward by the fact that the most important part of our contribution inevitably comes from our own unconscious. Being scientifically detached or consciously controlled may thwart, by the lack of emotional spontaneity, the development of the very thing we want to observe; on the other hand, being led by our unconscious expectations and not keeping an eye on our repressed instinctual urges, which might easily get stirred up by someone so completely dependent on us, we may be induced to find confirmations by creating them ourselves.

 

IX The Chronology of Ocnophilia and Philobatism

ePub

BEARING in mind the inevitable uncertainties inherent in any verbal description by an adult ‘scientific’ observer of these primitive pre-verbal states, in particular of earliest infancy, let us return to our main topic. What we have to discuss now are two interrelated questions. The one ,asks what the mechanisms are that enable the philobat and the ocnophil to distort their reality testing so as to be able to stick to their respective pictures of the world despite the everyday experience that the opposite type feels just the contrary; to some extent this was discussed in Chapter VI. The related question is, which of the two pictures of the world is chronologically the earlier, i.e. which developed out of which ?

At first thought one would say that the ocnophilic world is the earlier of the two. We find that clinging to objects which may represent the mother is understandable, simple, and entails hardly any, or only very primitive, reality testing. Moreover, there is no need to rely on oneself, one accepts every not impossible object as representing the safe, good mother, and shies away from the horrid empty spaces where there is no good mother. The apparent primitiveness of this situation should not deter us from examining it in detail. Clinging presupposes the discovery, however dim, of objects which are firm and resistant. Very likely at first they are only parts which, however, must be preserved at all costs as they have a tendency to disappear, to abandon or drop one. Clinging is therefore both an expression of an anxiety and an attempt to prevent its outbreak. Thus the ocnophilic world appears to be another instance of the impotent omnipotence,1 a fantasy mobilised to save some scanty remnants of the earlier state of primary love. After the traumatic experience that objects, especially the good mother, might drop him, the clinging child accepts the fact that vitally important but inscrutable objects do exist outside him; but he pretends— in his impotent omnipotence—that they will never leave him if only he can attach himself inseparably to them. His reality testing does not compel him to acquire much personal skill apart from an efficient way of clinging and perhaps— although later in adult life this is hardly ever openly admitted —a costly method for being accepted by his objects as a kind of clinging parasite.

 

X Progression for the Sake of Regression

ePub

THIS mixture could be called regression by progression or progression for the sake of regression. In the case of the philobat the progression is the acquisition of the consummate skill necessary for dealing with reality. The aim of this progression, of the acquisition of the skill by unrelenting effort and self-criticism, is to enable one to regress to the state which may be described as in a way forgetting altogether about the world around onself; enjoying the harmony between oneself and one’s environment. This state is obviously a denial of any separate existence. It may correctly be described—in a somewhat complicated way—as a simultaneous introjective identification with the partner and projective identification of the partner with oneself. But at the same time it is obviously also a regression to the state of primary love, to the undisturbed harmony, to the complete identity of subject and object, described in Chapter VII. Lastly, it is equally a progression to the acquisition of a skill in order to induce the object or even the whole actual world to accept the role of a co-operative partner. This whole complicated process may also be described as coping with the world by developing the powers and the integration of the ego; for all the skills on which the philobatic conquest of objects and of the world are based are functions of the integrated ego.

 

XI Regression in the Analytic Situation

ePub

IN the previous chapter we found that the individual may have three forms of primitive relation to the world around him. The first of them, primary love, is represented by the structureless friendly expanses. This harmonious relation is but short-lived, the traumatic discovery that vitally important parts of it are both independent and inscrutable creates a structure, and from then the world will consist of firm and resistant objects and of spaces separating them. The individual’s response to this trauma is, as we have seen, a complicated mixture of ocnophilia and philobatism.

At the beginning of Chapter VIIII pointed out that there are possibly two spheres in which these three states of very primitive object relationships may be observed and studied. One is very early childhood, and the other highly regressed patients in the analytic situation. I there discussed at some length why it is so difficult to obtain reliable data about these states. First, there is the intense dependence of the baby or patient on us observers. This dependence is an essential quality of the relationship, and forces us to become participants and partners in a highly emotionally charged situation. Second, most of the experiences met in these situations belong to pre-verbal—infantile or regressed—states, and it is we who have to render them into words; thus we have to act also as interpreter-informers and translators. And lastly, we are inevitably also teachers and educators; both the baby and the regressed patient have to learn from us how to express themselves so as to be understood, first by us, then by themselves, and ultimately by their fellow-men. It is in this aspect that the regressed patient offers fewer complications than the young baby. Although in his regressed state he is beyond the world of words, he can come back from it and—although with great difficulty and with considerable help from us— can tell us something of what happened to him in his own words. It is perhaps this fact that could explain why practically all psycho-analytic discoveries have been made during analysis of adult patients, a few important ones during analysis of children who could already speak, but not one to my knowledge by direct observation of babies.

 

XII The Ocnophilic and Philobatic Bias of our Theory and Technique

ePub

OBVIOUSLY these states of regression can be reached only if patient and analyst tacitly or even explicitly agree that they should be reached. Certain analysts view regressions of this kind with suspicion, call them acting out, and interpret any move towards them as the patient’s attempt to escape from the analytic work, especially from the agreed form of communication, viz. more or less continuous free associations by the patient, punctuated by appropriate interpretations by the analyst. It is understandable that in such an atmosphere this kind of tranquil unexcited regression does not occur, i.e. the analytic work is carried out more or less entirely in those layers of the mind which are accessible to words. Another group of analysts, less strict in their approach, may tolerate regressions of this kind but, perhaps unwittingly, force the patient out of them by their otherwise correct interpretations, for the acceptance and the understanding of their interpretations demands much more maturity from the patient than this state of regression can afford. Although regression may be reached for short moments, it cannot be maintained by the patient, and perhaps still less recognised by the analyst. This kind of analytic work is also kept mainly on the verbal level, allowing glimpses into the tranquil, unexcited pre-verbal states, but not permitting the patient to sink into them for any length of time.

 

XIII Notes on Some Kindred Topics

ePub

(i) Data on the History of Physical Thrills

As mentioned in Chapter II, for many centuries the normal pattern was that professionals performed various acts causing thrills in spectators. A change which turned spectators in increasing numbers into actors started slowly, almost imperceptibly, about the middle of the nineteenth century—as, for instance, the beginnings of amateur alpinism—and has been gathering momentum ever since. The history of this change would certainly be a most rewarding study for a social psychologist. All I can do here is to record some data regarding it.

According to the Shorter Oxford Dictionary ‘swing’ is an old Teutonic word first recorded in the intransitive sense in 1528. ‘Roundabout’, in the meaning of merry-go-round, is first found in 1484, and was freely used already by Shakespeare. The word ‘merry-go-round’ dates back to 1728, while ‘switchback’ is a recent arrival, appearing in the late 1880s. It is remarkable that the saying, ‘What you lose on the swings you gain on the roundabouts’, which sounds an old-established proverb, dates only from 1912.1

 

XIV Distance in Space and Time (by Enid Balint)

ePub

by Enid Balint

IN the previous chapters the philobat has been described as a person who finds pleasure in existing or moving about in what are to him friendly open spaces; who is not so much interested in leaving a place or arriving at another, as in the thrills and pleasures he experiences during his journey. These thrills are proportionate to his satisfaction in his skills, physical and mental, which enable him to make the journey. His pleasures therefore are partly in himself, in his own competence and power, and partly in the achievement which allows him to feel at one with objectless space. He is self-sufficient and fears no competitors for the favours of his objects, since he is not dependent on unobtainable objects.

The ocnophil is a person whose pleasure is found not in journeying from one place or object to another but in being in one place close to an object which he needs and values. He has no narcissistic pleasure in his mental or physical achievement; his satisfaction lies not in giving anything to his objects, but in getting something from them and being in close proximity to them.

 

Details

Print Book
E-Books
Slices

Format name
ePub
Encrypted
No
Sku
B000000020819
Isbn
9781781810217
File size
699 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