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13. Reading Donald Meltzer: identification and intercourse as modes of reading and relating

Meltzer, Donald Karnac Books ePub

James Fisher

If a lion could talk, we would not understand him” (Wittgenstein, 1953, p, 223). Ludwig Wittgenstein’s intriguing remark invites us to wonder at the mystery of communication. One response, of course, would be to think that if a lion could talk, he would be like us. And if he is like us, would we not, more or less, understand him? But would he be like us—or should I say, would it be like us? What sort of social intercourse could we have with a lion? What would we talk about? For some people, the more they think about such questions, the less sure but more intrigued they become. For others, there is nothing to puzzle over. Either the lion could make itself understood or it couldn’t. Stanley Cavell suggests that Wittgenstein’s remark indicates a sensibility rather than an assertion to be debated (Cavell, 1969b, p. 71). In this chapter, I want to explore the sensibility to reading as a form of relating that resists a premature wish for sameness, that understanding the other involves an openness to intercourse as well as a capacity for identification.

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CHAPTER THIRTEEN: Some personal statements by Donald Meltzer

Meltzer, Donald Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

On his analysis with Melanie Kleini

She was even in her 70's a handsome woman, fond of big hats and dressing well. She lived alone with a maid and a visiting secretary and her cat in a fair sized first foor fat in Hampstead, on a hill with views. With me, a patient, she was very formal but not cold, attentive and observing and talking quite a lot, always to the point and full of her observations. At time of collapse, catastrophe or misery she seemed very strong and fearless. I knew from public situations that she could be aggressive and contemptuous but she was neither with me in the sessions. She seemed immune to seduction or fattery but could be very ambiguous about personal feeling for the analysand. The result was that through years of analysis I never really felt that she liked me nor should. She played the piano and had a grand in the waiting room which it took me some years to see. Her cat occasionally came in to the consulting room which annoyed me. She was punctilious about punctuality, about her bills and holiday dates. Her memory seemed remarkable to the end.

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APPENDICES A—L

Meltzer, Donald Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

As explained in the Introduction, this book has grown in the milieu of lectures, seminars and supervisions, to some extent separated from the clinical work from which theoretical contributions to psycho-analytic literature derive. As a consequence a certain asynchrony is sometimes evident in the text in that reference is made to theoretical ideas which have not as yet taken their place in the literature.

In the following section these ideas and areas of development will be expanded, as a holding method, until future publications can give them more definition.

These problems of analytic method and process are of special interest from the structural point of view and will be dealt with extensively by Dr. H. Rosenfeld in a future publication, which will carry forward the work begun in his paper, “An Investigation of the Need of Neurotic and Psychotic Patients to Act Out During Analysis.”*

In the text I have referred to a particular aspect of acting-out of transference processes in children, of various ages and how these patterns of acting-out contribute form to their peer-relations and spontaneous group formation.

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17. A Swiftean Diatribe

Meltzer, Donald Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

Although the magnitude of the threats that this planet and its population face seems to have escalated beyond anything previously known, it is perhaps not always useful to approach the problems facing mankind from this quantitative vertex. The difficulty lies in our limited capacity for thought and its foundation in adequate emotional responsiveness. It may seem, superficially, that cataclysm stirs us deeply but careful examination suggests something quite contrary. Such spectacles, descriptions, statistics and prophecies of doom excite rather than stir. That is, they excite in us the orientation of opposition to what is already known but do not stir us to discover the unknown. In that sense they activate perverse tendencies of mind, the negative links, minus L, minus H, minus K.

The ‘end of the world’ can be stated in megatons rather than, as by Laputa's astronomical mathematicians, in terms of the temperature of the tail of a comet – or, in the language of the Old Testament prophet, as God's wrath, but this does not make the concept any more stirring of emotion. For horror is a perverse state of excitement as is amply testified to by TV, film or pulp magazines and their addicted population. Individual mentality and the individual's participation in groups is somehow contaminated by the perverse appeal of modern warfare and its obvious kinship to magic.

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14. A learning experience in psychoanalysis

Meltzer, Donald Karnac Books ePub

Psychoanalytic Group of Barcelona

This chapter is in fact part of a more extensive work, the gestation of which commenced in 1991 when our first contract with Donald Meltzer came to an end. We had the prospect before us of publishing a book that would expound some of the teachings that he had transmitted to us through clinical work. We held a meeting during which Meltzer showed little interest in this book; he did, however, show interest in a book that would give an account of our experience of working together as a group in psychoanalytic training. He put forward his idea of training based on the model of an atelier (Sincerity had not yet been published) and encouraged us to describe and define our experience.

This surprised us. We were not very convinced. We feared that it exceeded our abilities. We therefore went on with the tasks we had previously planned (the “case” book, as we called it within the group, was published: Meltzer & GPB, 1995). In spite of our perplexity, astonishment, and doubts, the idea was not abandoned; it was put off and at times forgotten, but it kept on reappearing with increasing force throughout the years. From 1991 on we held a series of meetings designed to elaborate our ideas around our experience as a training group. We felt that we did not meet the necessary requirements for observing ourselves—and even today we still have similar doubts. We do not feel that we can answer the question about the group’s particularity; this query remains.

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