Medium 9781780491318

Unrepresented States and the Construction of Meaning

Views: 1284
Ratings: (0)

In the last several decades, the analytic field has widened considerably in scope. The therapeutic task is now seen by an increasing number of analysts to require that patient and analyst work together to strengthen, or to create, psychic structure that was previously weak, missing, or functionally inoperative. This view, which may apply to all patients, but is especially relevant to the treatment of non-neurotic patients and states of mind, stands in stark contrast to the more traditional assumption that the therapeutic task involves the uncovering of the unconscious dimension of a present pathological compromise formation that holds a potentially healthy ego in thrall.The contrast which this book calls attention to is that which exists roughly between formulations of psychic structure and functioning that were once assumed to have been sufficiently well explained by the hypotheses of Freud's topographic theory and those that were not. The former are modeled on neurosis and dream interpretation, where conflicts between relatively well-defined (saturated) and psychically represented desires were assumed to operate under the aegis of the pleasure-unpleasure principle. The latter involve a different level of psychic functioning and registration, one that is more closely associated with pre-verbal, and/or massive psychic trauma, as well as with primitive mental states. It operates 'beyond the pleasure principle.' In complementary fashion, psychoanalytic theorizing has begun to shift from conceiving solely or predominantly of a universe of presences, forgotten, hidden or disguised, but there for the finding, to a negative universe of voids where creation of missing structure, often referred to by the Freudian metapsychological designation, representation, becomes of necessity part of the cure.However it is conceptualized psychoanalytically, representation is the culmination of a process through which impulse and content, and in favorable circumstances disguised versions of that part of the content that is unconscious, must all be linked. It is a term with historical roots in Freud's metapsychology, and its psychoanalytic usage refers back to that tradition and theoretical domain. It should not be confused with the way it or similar terms are used in other disciplines - e.g., child development or neuroscience - nor should references to its absence be misunderstood to necessarily imply the total absence of some kind of registration or inscription in 'the being,' i.e., the psyche or the soma, of the individual.

List price: $26.99

Your Price: $21.59

You Save: 20%

Remix
Remove
 

12 Chapters

Format Buy Remix

1: Introduction: From a Universe of Presences to a Universe of Absences

ePub

1

Introduction: from a universe of presences to a universe of absences

Gail S. Reed, Howard B. Levine, & Dominique Scarfone

In the last several decades, the analytic field has widened considerably in scope. The therapeutic task is now seen by an increasing number of analysts to require that patient and analyst work together to strengthen, or to create, psychic structure that was previously weak, missing, or functionally inoperative. This view, which may apply to all patients but is especially relevant to the treatment of non-neurotic patients and states of mind, stands in stark contrast to the more traditional assumption that the therapeutic task involves the uncovering of the unconscious dimension of a present pathological compromise formation that holds a potentially healthy ego in thrall.

The contrast to which we wish to call attention is that which exists roughly between formulations of psychic structure and functioning that were once assumed to have been sufficiently well explained by the hypotheses of Freud's topographic theory and those that were not.1 The former are modelled on neurosis and dream interpretation, where conflicts between relatively well-defined (saturated) and psychically represented desires were assumed to operate under the aegis of the pleasure–unpleasure principle. The latter involve a different level of psychic functioning and registration—one that is more closely associated with preverbal, and/or massive psychic trauma, as well as with primitive mental states. It operates “beyond the pleasure principle”. In complementary fashion, psychoanalytic theorizing has begun to shift from conceiving solely or predominantly of a universe of presences, forgotten, hidden, or disguised but there for the finding, to a negative universe of voids where creation of missing structure, often referred to by the Freudian metapsychological designation, representation, becomes of necessity part of the cure (e.g., Bion, 1970; Botella & Botella, 2005; Green, 1993, 1997; Roussillon, 1999; Winnicott, 1971c).

 

2: An Empty Mirror: Reflections on Nonrepresentation

ePub

2

An empty mirror: reflections on nonrepresentation

Gail S. Reed

Introduction

My niece, age five, came to the country with me a day in advance of her parents, who stayed behind to work. She had recently decided not to marry her father when she grew up but, instead, to marry a little boy in her class. Her father “would be very old” by the time she was ready to be married, she explained. Lately, she had presided over the wedding of her favourite stuffed animal, a male, to a female from her vast menagerie. She brought that favourite animal with her on our trip. Before going to sleep, she said that this animal's new wife could not come because she was “at work”.

The next day, my niece told me that, while in the car the day before, she had imagined her mother sitting next to her, laughing and playing with her. She then brought up the subject of growing old and dying and mentioned my own mother, who had died before she was born. She thought for a moment and asked, “When she died, were you really, really sad?” “Yes”, I answered. “Even though you were angry at her for going to work?” she asked.

 

3: The Colourless Canvas: Representation, Therapeutic Action, and the Creation of Mind

ePub

3

The colourless canvas: representation, therapeutic action, and the creation of mind

Howard B. Levine

From its very beginnings, psychoanalysis has been faced with a dilemma that is both epistemological and methodological. Bion (2005) succinctly summarized the problem when he wrote: “Our problem…is, how are we to see, observe…these things which are not visible?” When Freud (1900a, 1901b) first demonstrated that unconscious thoughts and feelings could be both legible and comprehensible, his discovery was so powerful that it may have obscured the fact that he only claimed that some part of the unconscious can be known by the symbolic traces it leaves on our conscious, waking lives. Freud (1915e) delineated this portion when he noted that some unconscious instinctual impulses are “highly organized, free from self-contradiction” (p. 190), relatively indistinguishable in structure from those that are conscious or pre-conscious and yet “they are unconscious and incapable of becoming conscious” (pp. 190–191). He continued: “qualitatively they belong to the system Pcs. but factually to the Ucs.” (p. 191, original italics).1

 

4: From Traces to Signs: Presenting and Representing

ePub

4

From traces to signs: presenting and representing

Dominique Scarfone

In spite of appearances to the contrary, psychoanalysis has been, since its inception, concerned as much with the non-representational as with the representational aspects of the human mind. By “representational” we refer to what Freud calls “Vorstellungen” and which, as we show later in this chapter, can be subsumed under the three Peircean kinds of signs that can be actively used by the mind—icons, indices, and symbols—with symbols (especially verbal) being the purest form of representation. The non-representation aspects point to what cannot be handled as signs of any sort.

Already in the “Project” (Freud, 1950a [1887–1902]), the model of a mental apparatus that Freud tried to expound was based on two foundational elements: “neurones” and “quantity”. In that early model, a “quantity” excites the neurones whose primary action is to pass it on to their neighbours, with the final result of either giving way to discharge or being transformed into complex networks of “facilitated neurones”. These facilitated neurones belong to the category Freud dubbed ψ neurones, whose main feature is to be capable of memory, precisely by way of their durable interconnection (that is “facilitation”).1 The other sort of “neurones” were dubbed φ: these are neurones that, in Freud's model, retain nothing and do not undergo facilitation. They merely discharge their “quantity” either to other φ neurones— and ultimately to the muscular apparatus (through motor neurones) or to the glandular system (through “secretory” or “key” neurones)—or to ψ neurones (p. 320). As for the ψ neurones themselves, instead of merely discharging their load, they end up creating stable networks that keep growing as excitation accrues. The ψ system is capable of delaying discharge also in view of the fact that the “quantity” it handles is small, hence the pressure towards action is less. The circuitry created by facilitation engages excitation in a longer transit than the reflex arc of which the φ neurones are redolent. Writes Freud: “Thus quantity in φ is expressed by complication in ψ. By this means the Q[uantity] is held back from ψ within certain limits at least…[and] ψ is cathected from φ in Qs [quantities] which are normally small” (Freud, 1915, p. 315). In summary, the amount of excitation of the neuronic apparatus may lead to a release into an outward action or to an internal somatic event, or it may be “held back” from release through complex ramifications within the system. Freud will later explain that as they become “well facilitated”, these neuronic ramifications will give birth to stable networks that will defer motor release all the more effectively and favour deliberation and judgement instead.

 

5: Psychic Figurability and Unrepresented States

ePub

5

Psychic figurability and unrepresented states

César Botella & Sara Botella

The notions of figurability and the work of figurability presented themselves to us progressively during our experience of treating unrepresented or insufficiently represented mental states, beginning with the treatment of young children who were considered in France as pre-psychotic. This experience afforded us a better understanding of borderline adult patients and psychosomatic structures. Then, we understood that in every analysis, even in clearly psychoneurotic and oedipal structures one also encounters—provided the treatment is taken far enough—the problematic of a core of mental states without representation, albeit hidden behind the network of representations (see Botella & Botella, 2005).

Under the French term of figurabilité we have designated a notion that we have been developing since 1983 on the basis of Freud's use, throughout his work and in an identical manner, of the term Darstellbarkeit. He does this notably in The Interpretation of Dreams (Freud, 1900a, p. 339) in the formulation Rücksicht auf Darstellbarkeit,1 the title of Sub-section D of chapter VI, the French translation of which has been modified four times in some 75 years. Do these modifications attest to the fact that, when it is a matter of designating an unconscious process, especially if it occurs during the regression of sleep, every word-presentation proves to be approximate and, basically, disappointing and cannot fail to “miss the point”, as Steiner (1975) says may occur with any translation. The one that has lasted the longest is: La prise en considération de la Figurabilité. We must take into account that the term Darstellbarkeit, which Freud probably borrowed from the sciences, is one that, throughout his work, he uses only in relation to dreams. He wanted to designate a specific and unique quality of the dream-work, the existence of which had never before been described and to which no existing term could correspond. In this sense, the French term “Figurabilité”, which had fallen out of use in French until it was resurrected in 1967 by Laplanche and Pontalis in their Vocabulaire de Psychanalyse (The Language of Psychoanalysis, 1967) with a view to describing, in the purest Freudian spirit, a specific characteristic of the dream, seems to us to be a more adequate term and one that corresponds better to the spirit of Darstellbarkeit.2

 

6: “If one Only Knew What Exists!”

ePub

6

“If one only knew what exists!”

Laurence Kahn

Speculations

As a footnote to his translation of Charcot's Tuesday Lectures, commenting on Charcot's famous statement that “la théorie, c'est bon; mais ça n'empêche pas d'exister”, Freud writes: “If one only knew what exists!”—and he emphasized “what” (Freud, 1892–94, p. 139).1

This was in 1887. But to some extent, this marginal note runs through Freud's work as a whole. It leads Freud to state, in his reply to Einstein, that the theory of the drives is our mythology and that the drives are “mythical entities, magnificent in their indefiniteness” (Freud, 1932a, pp. 57, 95). It underlies the analogy inspired by Kant between the internal foreign territory—that is, the repressed—and the external foreign territory—that is, reality—both of which need to be distinguished from the modality of their emergence. And what are we to make of Freud's hesitation regarding the primal murder as primary reality if we consider that, whereas the authoritative text of “The Return of Totemism in Childhood” qualifies the father's murder as “the great primaeval tragedy”, the manuscript in its final version still evokes “the great mythological tragedy” (Freud, 1912–13, p. 156; Grubrich-Simitis, 1996, p. 173)?

 

7: “Non-Represented” Mental States

ePub

7

“Non-represented” mental states

Marion M. Oliner

How do we speak of non-represented mental states?

My interest in the issue of “non-represented mental states” began with the study of the effects of trauma. The most prevalent theories on the subject assume that the causes of trauma are unavailable to consciousness, but that the victim enacts or repeats past experiences whose meanings become evident only subsequently through the analysis of the present situation in which they are enacted. These theories, described by Bohleber (2010) in his extensive review, postulate that “The trauma becomes the “black hole” in the psychic structure” (p. 94). (This line of reasoning has been generally accepted by psychoanalysts and taken as evidence of Nachträglichkeit [deferred action]). It is in this sense that the original experience causing the trauma has come to be commonly referred to as “non-represented”, but this designation entails some logical difficulties in need of further investigation, which prompted my interest in the issues of representation.

 

8: Drive, Representation, and the Demands of Representation

ePub

8

Drive, representation, and the demands of representation

Marilia Aisenstein

The setting (or frame) and the statement of the fundamental rule put the patient in an unusual situation in which only the use of words is permitted. This prohibition repeats metaphorically the taboo on incest, and the fundamental rule requires the patient to transfer his entire psychic production onto speech. He is required to say freely everything that comes to his mind. He will transfer from the outset—that is, he will express via language—an earlier affective and libidinal conflict, which infiltrates and impregnates the present and the actual content of his discourse. Language is the medium, then, for expressing wishes for instinctual satisfactions, for elucidation, for renewal and change, all of which are opposed by the compulsion to repeat.

At the Psychoanalytic Colloquium of Aix-en-Provence in 1983, André Green spoke of “a double transference process, that is, a transference of the psychic on to speech and a transference of speech on to the object” (Green, 1983a, p. 132). It seems to me that this dissection of the phenomenon is important in itself. At the time, the aim was to counter Lacan's project. I shall not enter into this quarrel here, nor into its deeper ramifications, which are more of a concern to linguists than to the clinician. Nevertheless, the fundamental implication of this dissection is to show clearly the conversion of the psychic apparatus into language, which, for its part, is the vehicle of infinite metaphorical possibilities. It is precisely in this infinite variety that the compulsion to repeat can be thwarted: in Guérir du mal d'aimer [Recovering from the sickness of loving], J. C. Rolland (1998) devotes two chapters to these questions: “Du rêve au mot d'esprit, la Fabrique de la langue” [From dreams to jokes, the making of language] and “Compulsion de répétition, compulsion de représentation” [Compulsion to repeat, compulsion to represent].

 

9: Discovering an Umbrella

ePub

9

Discovering an umbrella

Jacques André

Analysis sometimes brings tangible results. But because it is a long-distance journey, because it takes time, only rarely does it happen that we actually sense them. Analysis has an ambitious aim—that of enabling change in those very areas where Psyche remains most stubbornly immobile: in our ways of loving and hating. Fortunately for both protagonists, there are stopping places along the way—small changes, though not as small as they may seem: for example, the disappearance or transformation of a maddening quirk that makes life miserable, hands no longer needing to be washed every five minutes, oysters suddenly delicious after having long been “disgusting”, an erection breaking all records of duration, a skirt at last, instead of that old pair of jeans, a smile replacing a guilty thought, taking the underground again, after years of walking, without being (too) afraid that men will assault and rape you if the train stops in a tunnel, sleeping without pills, dreams one had forgotten could be dreamed, an unpronounceable word suddenly back on one's lips, swimming in deep water without losing ground, no longer believing you have to cry your eyes out to be loved.

 

10: In Search of Symbolization: The Analyst's Task of Dreaming

ePub

10

In search of symbolization: the analyst's task of dreaming

Roosevelt M. S. Cassorla

Bion (1962a, 1962b, 1992) proposed that the capacity to think first develops when emotional experiences without meaning (beta elements) are transformed by a hypothetical maternal function (alpha function) into mental elements (alpha elements). The latter, which are imagetic symbols (Langer, 1942), become linked to one another, bound to words and have the potential to generate new, more complex derivative forms of symbols, that represent reality when it is absent and generate and represent new emotional meanings for experiences. Little by little, infants introject the alpha function received from their mothers—or, better stated, they internalize a complex intersubjective relationship between baby and mother (Brown, 2011) that supports and facilitates their own emerging capacity to dream and therefore to think. This transformation of what might be called “biological facts” into mental facts is intimately connected to, dependent upon, and perhaps even identical to the process of representation and is a necessary preliminary step in the creation of symbols. It is what gives meaning to reality and makes us human. In the essay that follows, I would like to explore some of the vicissitudes of this process from a post-Bionian perspective.

 

11: The Inaccessible Unconscious and Reverie as a Path of Figurability

ePub

11

The inaccessible unconscious and reverie as a path of figurability

Giuseppe Civitarese

The treatment of patients with serious difficulties in symbolization is a riddle. How can we find a way to communicate with someone whose representational function is seriously impaired, to the extent that he is not able to give a personal meaning to experience? How can we begin to build some threads from experiences, however small, of sharing emotions, and then weave them with and for the patient into a fabric of thoughts? If repairing deficits in symbolization and representation depends upon intersubjective relationships and the patient is tenaciously avoiding every kind of contact, how can treatment go forward? It is my belief that an emotional connection can only be born out of living—or better, out of suffering—the same things, out of a moment of intersubjective connection between two separate subjects. But what is to be done when the patient—and sometimes the analyst as well—has no language at their disposal with which to build this connection?

 

12: The Process of Representation in Early Childhood

ePub

12

The process of representation in early childhood

Christine Anzieu-Premmereur

In working psychoanalytically with toddlers and children, the child analyst encounters behaviours, anxiety states, and syndromes that may be said to result from a failure of the early symbolization process. For example, a child may panic and feel distressed when his mother leaves the room, may be unable to sleep, may be terrified of any noise, or may run around the room randomly, unable to focus on an age-appropriate task. Such behaviours may reflect a weakened or absent ability to represent, and so the child may seek to discharge tension via action and behaviour rather than deal with it more productively by playing and dreaming.

The child who lacks the ability to represent the mother in his mind when she is not physically present has no way of organizing his distress and anxieties in her absence. It may then fall to the analyst to foster the process of representation in the child by offering the child his/her own capacity for representation through the use of language, especially metaphor, play, and creative activity.

 

Details

Print Book
E-Books
Chapters

Format name
ePub
Encrypted
No
Sku
B000000021102
Isbn
9781781811894
File size
773 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