The Claustrum: An Investigation of Claustrophobic Phenomena

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Using the Kleinian concept of projective-identification, with special reference to intrusive identification with internal objects, this work examines claustrophobic phenomena and its relations to the treatment of borderline and adolescent patients

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Chapter 1 Melanie Klein’s Vision of Projective Identification

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Although her earlier work had borne the stamp of an emphasis on the concreteness of psychic reality and thus of internalized objects (the structural elements of the Superego), and established that the mechanisms of defense were implemented by unconscious phantasies, it was not until the 1946 paper on schizoid mechanisms that Melanie Klein embanked on a path that clearly distinguished her work from Freud’s, following a direction already indicated by Abraham’s “Short Study of the Libido”. While she never abandoned the distinction between Life and Death Instincts, her methods of description moved more and more away from differentiating between ego and id in clinical phenomena in favour of talking of the Self. This was ushered in by the description of splitting processes, in which parts of the self not only embraced Id aspects but also internal object aspects {Narrative Notes to the 24th Session).

The thrust of “Notes on some Schizoid Mechanisms” is, as its title suggests, towards defining mechanisms characteristic of the paranoid-schizoid position, therefore of the first part of the first year of post-natal life, and consequently the source of points of fixation, in her view, for the psychoses: that is schizophrenias, paranoia and manic-depressive states. “The persecutory fears arising from the infant’s oral-sadistic impulses to rob the mother’s body of its good contents, and from the anal-sadistic impulses to put his excrements into her (including the desire to enter her body in order to control her from within) are of great importance for the development of paranoia and schizophrenia.” (p. 293, Works III).

 

Chapter 2 Review of Earlier Publications

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Since the aim of this book is both to bring together my earlier experience and ideas about projective identification, scattered in various publications, and to amend and amplify them with current views, all as a basis for exploring some of the wider social and political implications of this mental mechanism, I thought at first to republish here the earlier statements. But I find, on reviewing, that everything I have written in the past thirty years is shot through with reports of these phenomena. The only option is to take only the major publications in chronological order, abstracting from them the developing ideas.

But as an exception to this I have chosen to republish in full the paper “The Relation of Anal Masturbation to Projective Identification.” It represents first of all a clinical discovery that surprised me, and secondly it is certainly the jumping off place for all subsequent developments in my thought on this subject. As a preamble I might mention that I had been very unhappy about Melanie Klein’s paper “On Identification” but knew not why for some years. It seemed clear to me that, regardless of the author of the novel’s wish to be ambiguous, there was no need for psycho-analytical ambiguity. Clearly, like Golding’s ‘Pincher Martin’,the story of Fabian represents the dream of a dying man. Its events therefore belong squarely in the inner and not the outer world. Only with the writing of this paper in 1966 did I discover the real reason for my dissatisfaction: the tendency of Mrs. Klein’s paper to continue treating projective identification as a psychotic mechanism and one which operated with external objects, primarily or exclusively.

 

Chapter 3 The Geographic Dimension of the Mental Apparatus

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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 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).

 

Chapter 4 The Compartments of the Internal Mother

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Although the clinical realizations which gave rise to the conception of the compartmentalization of the internal mother’s body go back to the early 1960’s, the autism research group that finally produced Explorations in Autism, 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 where the internal compartmentalization 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 B ion’s affect theory, plus and minus L, H and K, and the central part in the oscillations Ps↔D, 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).

 

Chapter 5 Life in the Claustrum

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From the vertex of the Klein/Bion (post-Kleinian) model-of-the-mind, psychopathology can be classified in a way that corresponds well to the purely descriptive classifications of psychiatry. Metapsyetiological, or rather Extended Meta-psyetiological, classification would divide into neurotic or psychotic disturbances: paranoid-schizoid struggles (Ps↔D), would contrast with structures effected by splitting and projective identification deeply influencing character, sense of identity, capacity for symbol formation, view-of-the-world, concept formation (cognitive development), mood. In this view the schizophrenias must be set aside as life in a world of the delusional system, beyond contact or commerce with psychic reality.

While we catch fleeting glimpses of life in the claustrum from neurotic and normal patients, it is in work with borderline and psychotic states that the interior world is laid out for our inspection at leisure. Without Bion’s Theory of Thinking and Theory of Groups, armed only with Freudian mechanics and Kleinian positions, even with the addition of splitting concepts, our description of these mental states lacks power and vividness, and our therapeutic intervention finds little foothold in the massive wall of resistance to change. The technical problems, which led Freud to consider that the Narcissistic Neuroses were beyond the scope of psycho-analysis for want of a capacity to form a transference, will be considered in the next chapter. Melanie Klein’s anchoring of the epistemophilic instinct in the baby’s interest in the interior of the mother’s body, and therefore of her mind, has been extensively explored in The Apprehension of Beauty, and some of the qualities of the interior world as an aspect of psychic reality have already been described in Chapters 2 and 3, as derived from psycho-analysis and the insights of artists. These qualities, construed rather than observed, must be differentiated from those directly experienced through projective identification. These latter, with which we are about to deal, are greatly influenced by the fact of the intrusion. Not only do the motives of the incursion alter the judgment, but the damage done by the parasitism alters the state of the object. This is most clearly seen in the manic-depressive states and in hypochondria, and have been vividly described by Abraham and Mrs. Klein.

 

Chapter 6 Technical Problems of the Claustrum

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In previous chapters the centre of interest has been on the personalities in whom the sense of identity has become fixed in that infantile part which is an inhabitant of the claustrum. And it is with this population that the special technical problems arise. In the normal and neurotic person, the entry into analysis may, and usually does, commence with a preformed .transference which has gathered its expectations from literature, films, friends’ accounts. It is generally either austerely institutional or wildly romantic and is set aside fairly promptly when the setting has been clarified, the method outlined, cooperation requested, the first dreams are interpreted, and the week-end breaks begin to have an impact. The need for objects of infantile transference then favours the gradual attraction of these facets of the personality into the ambience of the analysis, the “gathering of the transference”. Experience strongly suggests that the most satisfactory answer to the question “why do you seek analysis?” would be, “Because I need to gather together my needs for infantile transference so that there may be some possibility of working conflicts through instead of repeatedly enacting them.” Perhaps it will be thought that I am using transference in a restricted sense when I stress both “infantile” and need of an “object”, but it is my understanding of the term that transference derives from the externalization of the relationship to internal objects, and has therefore the configuration of family life. It stands in continual oscillation with the organization of narcissism, that is, those activities and alliances of infantile structures which are outside the direct influence of the parental figures and usually in opposition to their values.

 

Chapter 7 Emergence from the Claustrum versus shift of Consiousness

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It is a difficult problem to be able to state with any clarity what we mean by “understanding” in this science of psycho-analysis, but surely it has a dialectic. I am frequently reminded of the marvelous flight of imagination by Newton that produced the infinitesimal calculus, for it seems to catch in a condensed way the mental processes of differentiation and integration, the slope and the area, the one and the two dimensional which taken together generate the three-dimensional. The analogous mental process, taken away from the abstractions of mathematics or its concrete applications to the inanimate world, must use the far less precise instruments of symbols and their transformation into words. I wish here to make a differentiation that seems to grow out of the imagination about the interior world of the internal mother, the claustrum, and a certain class of phenomena which seem to deserve the names instability and rigidity. But I am aware that these same denominations apply as well to situations in which the claustrum seems to play no part. How can we differentiate and how describe the distinction?

 

Chapter 8 The Role of the Claustrum in the Onset of Schizophrenia

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My clinical experience over the years, of analytic work with adults and children, normal, borderline and psychotic, and a wide supervision component of my work, has resulted in the building of a model of the mind, based chiefly on the work of Freud, Abraham, Klein and Bion, in which the geographic dimension of structure is v.ery central. The “worlds” in which human bntental experience takes place are various, at least four in number, fundamentally: outside, inside and the interior of internal and external objects. To this must be added, in the case of schizophrenic phenomena, a fifth world which is essentially “nowhere”, that is, having no dynamic or structural links with the other four. This I see as the world of the delusional system while the other four are dimensions of psychic reality.

Given that the human personality is never unified but variously unintegrated and riven by splitting processes, the theoretical problems encountered in the clinical approach to the schizophrenias may be seen, grossly speaking, as three in number: how does the delusional system form? how does a part or parts of the personality come to live in this “nowhere” world? and what are the factors which determine the access to consciousness of the mental state of such deluded part or parts? Here I wish to focus attention on the second of these questions, but to give it substantial texture it is necessary to indicate very briefly my approach to the other two.

 

Chapter 9 Concerning the Ubiquity of Projective Identification

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When Melanie Klein first described the omnipotent phantasy of projective identification it appeared as an exotic, a rare psychotic phantasy involving external objects and deep alienation of the sense of identity. Forty-five years of research, clinical experience with children and adults and a wide experience of baby observation have not only demonstrated its elementary function with internal objects but have made clear the wide range of phenomena, both useful for relationships and communication or wildly pathological, that come within this broad description of narcissistic identification processes.

Infant observation in particular strongly suggests its essential nature in the preverbal period as the mediator between the baby’s confusional states and the mother’s capacity for reverie and unconscious dream-thought. A view of the developmental process that emphasizes structure of self and objects in the light of splitting processes must necessarily take into consideration the unevenness of development: that those parts of the self which make contact with external figures are most likely to establish enduring relations with internal objects and benefit from the facilitation, through thought, of learning from experience, that is from emotional experiences. But other parts of the personality do not develop this capacity for intimacy, must learn by other routes and are forced thereby relentlessly towards adaptation rather than development. Of these other parts, relatively estranged or absolutely estranged from the heart of the internal family structure, one or another is perhaps left behind at each developmental step (“step” is more appropriate than “point” because the developmental process, as represented in psychoanalysis, certainly makes leaps of comprehension and acceptance — Wittgenstein’s “now I can go on”). Clinical differentiation suggests that parts may be left behind in the womb, producing states of withdrawal quite different in phenomena from those of projective identification. Clearly some are left behind in the claustrum in which they have taken refuge or into which they have penetrated. In the chapter on “Emergence from the Claustrum” the question of entrapment has been investigated: is the portal of entry really closed against exit?

 

Chapter 10 Symptomatology versus Characterology - The Psycho-analytical Process

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The view of the analytical process that I have utilized and written about these many years is one that stresses the resolution of confusional states as the necessary prelude to the threshold of the depressive position. Of the many types of confusion that can be given a name for descriptive purposes, all can be classified, for theoretical purposes, under the headings of geographic and zonal confusions. This has not only the advantage of orderliness, since the descriptive variations are fairly limitless, but also has a certain utility in the consulting room. For instance, to see good/bad confusions as the result of inadequate splitting-and-idealization has an imaginative appeal, but does not easily lend itself to clinical exemplification; on the other hand to define it as a zonal confusion, for instance faeces confused with penis, or as a consequence of projective identification, a bad part of the self having intruded into the paternal penis, finds immediate realization in dreams or children’s play.

 

Chapter 11 The Claustrum and Adolescence

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Undoubtedly the tendencies, through masturbatory processes, to enter into intrusive identification with internal objects, have their origin in the earliest weeks and months of post-natal life. That they have a connection, a reference to memories of life in the womb can be assumed, but the great difference has been traced. It has also been suggested that states of mind influenced by intrusive indentification may be very different from those related to a split-off part of the self which has not been born, left behind, a victim of premature splitting processes, like the little crippled boy who was left behind when the Pied Piper led all the children into the mountain.

‘Did I say, all? No, one was lame,
And could not dance the whole of the way;
And in after years, if you would blame His sadness, he was used to say, —
‘It’s dull in our town since my playmates left!
‘I can’t forget that I’m bereft
‘Of all the pleasant sights they see,
‘Which the Piper also promised me.
‘For he led us, he said, to a joyous land,
‘Joining the town and just at hand,
‘Where waters gushed and fruit trees grew
‘And flowers put forth a fairer hue,
‘And everything was strange and new; …’

 

Chapter 12 The Claustrum and the Perversions/Addictions

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The “revision” of Freud’s “Three Essays on Sexuality” undertaken in Sexual States of Mind (1973) now requires some revision itself, in the light of subsequent digestion and implementation of Bion’s work, some of which was reported in Studies in Extended Metapsychology and The Apprehension of Beauty (with Meg Harris Williams). But also the present explorations of the projective phenomenology of intrusive identification extends Melanie Klein’s model of the mind, and requires special application to the perversions and addictions. The revision of Freud proposed in Sexual States was primarily a structural revision, taking into account splitting of self and objects, narcissistic identifications, struggle for control of the organ of consciousness (attention) and the war between creative and destructive tendencies seen, however, more at the level of self than of ego balancing life and death instincts.

This volume is devoted to this exploration of the projective phenomena accompanying intrusive identification, but they need a specific integration with Bion’s theory of thinking with reference to the perversions and addictions. The aspect of his theory which is most significant for this purpose, and without which the idea of aesthetic conflict and its place in development and in the analytic process would not be possible, is Bion’s new theory of affects, L (love), H (hate) and K (knowledge) as the emotional links of human relationships. Although it is ambiguous in his work, until, I think, A Memoir of the Future, this theory of plus and minus LHK completely shifts any idea of evil or destructiveness out of the realm of instinct, and therefore of constitution, genetics. Instead the emotionality, which is the heart of the matter of the life of the mind, of intimate and passionate relationships, and therefore of the growth of the personality (as distinct from the refinement of the adaptational carapace) is seen as struggling for expression in the face of an aversion to the turbulence (catastrophic change) which emotion entails. This gives a wider meaning to the concept of defense, for it implies also defense against emotion, not only against mental pain. Such a theory brings within the purview of analysis the whole puzzling region of defense against pleasure as well as pain, of what might be called the incapacity to enjoy one’s happiness, dearth of joie de vivre.

 

Chapter 13 The Claustrum and Politics

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It seems useless and self-deceptive to pretend that one can carry on an activity at which others also labour without participating in the communal aspect, for there is always a community. And since there is a community there are problems of organization and communication where the borderland between friendly and hostile, communication and action, governing and ruling, opposing and sabotaging becomes obscure. In everything I have written some attention has been paid to the institutional aspect of psycho-analysis in order to clarify to some extent the organizational position from which I am intruding my thoughts into the atmosphere. It is, naturally, an area in which I am essentially ignorant, but I can comfort myself with the belief that so are others, even alleged experts. So if I am an embarrassment to my friends once again by making a fool of myself, I remember Leonard Woolfs story about Hippolytes standing on his head on the wedding banquet table because he was too happy to care if he made a fool of himself. After all, in the area of politics, who has showed himself more of a fool than Plato?

 



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