The One and the Many: Relational Psychoanalysis and Group Analysis

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This book is a of papers written between 2002 and 2012 on the subject of group analysis and relational psychoanalysis. From the author's point of view, these two disciplines are really the two sides of the same coin, since both explore and use therapeutically what happens in the interphase between individual and collective ways of existence. It is divided into three parts. The first deals with the construction of a theory that articulates individual, relational, and collective mental processes; the second, with the problems of interpretation from the hermeneutic, psychoanalytic, and group-analytic points of view; the third, with the clinic and applications of relational analysis and group analysis.One major theme is the construction of a new metapsychology that may allow us to transcend the limitations of the individual paradigm that underlies Freudian theory and the mainstream versions of psychoanalysis. In this, there is an attempt to integrate the contributions of Sandor Ferenczi, the British Independents, S. H. Foulkes's group analysis, Enrique Pichon-Riviere and the Latin-American tradition that stems from his though and practice, and present-day developments in relational psychoanalysis. This amounts to a "mestization" of a number of branches of psychoanalysis and group analysis that stem from the original Freudian roots.

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CHAPTER ONE Beyond the individual and the collective: the new widening scope of the field of psychoanalysis

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CHAPTER TITLE

CHAPTER ONE

Beyond the individual and the collective: the new widening scope of the field of psychoanalysis

Introduction to Chapter One his introductory chapter deals with the main subject of the book, a theme that has occupied me since the beginning of my analytic studies in the early 1970s: that of the relation between the individual and the group, which is perhaps more accurately stated in terms of individual and collective mental processes. Although I began, as was usual at the time in Buenos Aires, by studying Freud, I soon entered a training course in group psychotherapy, at the Argentine

Group Psychology and Psychotherapy Association. There I became familiar with socio-psychological theories and the theory of communication as a necessary complement to the psychoanalytic approach.

One consequence of this was that, as I went on studying psychoanalysis and later had my formal psychoanalytic education in Mexico,

I unwittingly found myself learning something quite different from what my teachers were trying to convey, since I automatically translated psychoanalytic theories into another epistemology, which was unlike that of traditional psychoanalysis. Hence, I always felt identified with those psychoanalytic theories that included a consideration of actual relationships with other real people, such as Object Relations

 

CHAPTER TWO The syncretic paradigm: the metapsychology of individuals and groups

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CHAPTER TWO

The syncretic paradigm: the metapsychology of individuals and groups

Introduction to Chapter Two lthough several parts of this chapter have been either read or published in previous papers, the present version is widely enlarged and includes completely new material. It is, therefore, a new presentation, especially written for this book, which summarises an important development in my own theoretical thought that has been growing by successive stages throughout my career.

I have been interested in the concept of a primordial undifferentiated phase of experience and relating, ever since I first read Bleger’s contributions, in the early seventies. It made sense for me, and it seemed to account both for the deep connection that developed in groups and for some of the strange experiences we have in the analytic room, whether as analysts or as analysands. It also helped in the understanding of altered states of consciousness and mystical experiences.

I came back to this problem repeatedly over the years, and approached it in several theoretical and clinical papers that attempted various solutions that did not fully satisfy me. I was relying at the time on concepts derived from Balint, Mahler, and Winnicott. Finally, in the late nineties, I focused on Ferenczi’s work, which I had originally read in my first years of studying psychoanalysis, but which now took another meaning for me.

 

CHAPTER THREE Lost in translation: a contribution to intercultural understanding

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CHAPTER THREE

Lost in translation: a contribution to intercultural understanding

Introduction to Chapter Three his chapter is the outcome of an inner controversy I had in early

2009, as I explain in the first section, with two Canadian Frenchspeaking colleagues. When I read their papers, in both English and French, I was impressed by the difficulties and misunderstandings that arise when trying to interpret and convey in one’s own language a set of psychoanalytic ideas that were originally formulated in another language and within a different tradition. I sat down immediately to write these reflections, without knowing that the task would be far from easy and that it would take much longer than I had expected. I was aware that the title I had chosen—”Lost in translation”—was also the name of a film I had not seen at the time. It was only later that I was told that this was also the title of a most interesting book of memoires by Eva Hoffman (1989), which narrates her immigration, in 1959, from Poland to Canada, and then to the US, as well as the transmutation and the misunderstandings derived from her immersion in a new language and culture.

 

CHAPTER FOUR The icon and the idol: the place of Freud and other founding fathers and mothers in psychoanalytic identity and education

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CHAPTER FOUR

The icon and the idol: the place of

Freud and other founding fathers and mothers in psychoanalytic identity and education

Introduction to Chapter Four ver since I started to study psychoanalysis, I was struck by the peculiar place that Freud and his writings occupied in the psychoanalytic community and teaching. It seemed that being able to produce a Freud quotation in support of one’s assertions put an end to any discussion—that is, if no one else managed to bring some other quotation that appeared to be germane to the issue. These being the rules of the game, I learnt to play by them, but I was never convinced that this was a proper way to conduct a theoretical discussion. I sorely missed a more academic way of tackling a problem. (Much later, I found out that Charles Rycroft (1985, 1995), a writer whose theoretical papers I have always appreciated, had felt pretty much the same about scientific discussions in the British Psychoanalytic Society.)

As years and decades went by, I became a teacher of psychoanalysis myself and met with a major resistance in my students, when

 

CHAPTER FIVE A Hermes in London: the subtlety of interpretation in Donald Winnicott’s clinic

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CHAPTER FIVE

A Hermes in London: the subtlety of interpretation in Donald Winnicott’s clinic

Introduction to Chapter Five his chapter was originally written for the First Winnicott

Meeting, “Winnicott in the Contemporary Clinic”, organised by the students of the Institute of the Mexican Psychoanalytic

Association in April 2011. Having been invited to contribute with a lecture on the subject, I was happy to have the opportunity to develop conjointly two themes that had occupied me for many years: the work of Winnicott and the theory of interpretation. This effort was enriched by the work I had been doing with my friend, Mexican philosopher

Mauricio Beuchot, on the articulation of psychoanalysis and hermeneutics, as well as my interest in the analogical use of mythology as an aid to the understanding of highly complex theories and processes—both of them subjects that the reader will surely have already found in the previous chapters. My original presentation was in Spanish, and it has not been previously published, but the present version is not just a translation, but a rewriting of it, in order to integrate this text into the general context of the book. I have also added a postscript that deals with Winnicott’s relation with relational analysis.

 

CHAPTER SIX The clinical diary of 1932 and the new psychoanalytic clinic

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CHAPTER SIX

The clinical diary of 1932 and the new psychoanalytic clinic

Introduction to Chapter Six his chapter was originally written as a presentation for the

International Congress “Clinical Sándor Ferenczi”, held in

Turin in July 2002, under the chairmanship of Franco Borgogno.

It was originally written in English and then translated into Italian, the language in which I read it, although I was only able to discuss it in English (being a polyglot is hard work indeed). In this text, I develop the argument that Sándor Ferenczi initiated a new way of recording and sharing our clinical experiences in psychoanalysis, one that strikingly differs from the style that emerged from Freud’s case histories. This new genre was characterised by its emphasis on the analytic relationship and the inclusion of the analyst’s subjective experiences. Such style has flourished, during the past few decades, in the clinical writings of psychoanalysts of a relational bent. This is in line with the idea that Ferenczi has been the pioneer of the relational turn in psychoanalysis, a proposition I expounded and developed in a previous paper (Tubert-Oklander, 1999a). I then present three clinical narratives of episodes from different psychoanalytical treatments, and use them as examples for the discussion of some of the issues generated by the contrast between traditional analysis and relational analysis, particularly the polemical subject of countertransference disclosure.

 

CHAPTER SEVEN Lazarus’ resurrection: the inclusion of political and religious discussion in the analytic dialogue

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CHAPTER SEVEN

Lazarus’ resurrection: the inclusion of political and religious discussion in the analytic dialogue

Introduction to Chapter Seven his text was originally written as a presentation for the Fifth

Meeting of the International Association of Relational

Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, “Close Encounters:

Relational Perspectives at the Psychological Edge”, held in Boston,

MA in January 2006. It was read in a paper workshop and then extensively discussed by the audience. Some of the ideas that emerged in this discussion have been included as a postscript. The paper presents a clinical vignette of one whole week of a treatment that quite clearly depicts the way I presently conceive my work in bipersonal psychoanalysis, from a relational perspective.

The other point that I discuss is clearly posed in the chapter’s subtitle. Psychoanalysts have traditionally avoided any discussion with their patients of political, religious, or ideological issues, in an attempt to preclude using the power of transference for indoctrinating them. In this they followed Freud’s (1919a) injunction to be able

 

CHAPTER EIGHT The matrix of despair

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CHAPTER EIGHT

The matrix of despair

Introduction to Chapter Eight n May 2007, I was invited by Earl Hopper to deliver a plenary lecture in the 14th European Symposium of Group Analysis, to be held in Dublin in August 2008. The theme of the Congress was to be “Despair, Dialogue and Desire: the transformative power of the analytic group in the movement from despair to desire through dialogue”. After having accepted, I was told by Jacinta Kennedy,

Chair of the Scientific Committee, that my lecture was to be on

Wednesday, “a day we would like to address the theme of Despair with a focus on clinical work as the previous day will be mainly political/social”. This posed a challenge to me, since I had intended precisely to focus on the socio-political approach to the problem of the widespread feeling of hopelessness that pervades our contemporary,

Postmodern world—a subject I had been working on for some time.

But then I came upon clinical material that illustrated my views on the subject and my approach to clinical work in group-analytic psychotherapy, as well as some of my theoretical concerns. In this, I had the fortune of co-conducting the therapy group with my wife and colleague, Dr Reyna Hernández-Tubert, with whom I have shared clinical and theoretical work, and our writing, for the past twenty years.

 

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