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CHAPTER FOURTEEN. Kleinian thinking in the 1950s

Joan Riviere Karnac Books ePub

Joan Riviere introduces her readers to developments in psychoanalysis with a masterly survey. She uses her thorough understanding of Freud’s theories to show how Melanie Klein, who brought about many of the developments, is extending his ideas, not deviating from them, as some of Klein’s detracters declare. She points out that Freud often showed indecisiveness about his theories, and this is particularly true of his postulation of the life and death instincts. Nonetheless in his later works he expressed his conviction of ‘the instinctual duality as the foundation of intra-psychic conflict’. Joan Riviere’s makes a highly significant statement—that those analysts who dispute Klein’s findings most vehemently still ‘stand by Freud’s original formulations which were never formally retracted or abandoned; that where Freud later broke new ground and went ahead, sometimes in more intuitive recognition, they have not followed’.

Developments in Psycho-Analysis was conceived as a presentation of the four papers that had been written to elaborate, describe and present Klein’s ideas at the time of the Controversial Discussions in the British Psycho-Analytical Society in 1943/44. The four papers were supplemented by three additional ones by Melanie Klein and a further paper by Paula Heimann. In introducing the book Joan Riviere perceptively describes the significance of Klein’s ideas and shows that her results stand on their own foundations; she produced an integrated theory which, although still in outline, nevertheless takes account of all psychical manifestations, including psychotic processes and mental development in infancy. The importance of infantile development is brilliantly outlined as she presents each paper with comments that are interesting to read as one studies the papers themselves. Her descriptions in simple terms of the difficulties inherent in attempting to understand and convey infantile pre-verbal communications and the expression of unconscious phantasy complement those of Susan Isaacs, who eloquently conveys this problem in the first chapter of the book.

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A castration symbol

Joan Riviere Karnac Books ePub

The duplicating of an object in dreams is known to analysts as a representation (by means of an opposite idea) of its absence. It occurs particularly in reference to castration ideas and with penis symbols. The following instance of this mechanism coming up in a phantasy may point to a possible second motivation by which this form of representation comes to be used (the first being the characteristic unconscious one of representation by opposites).

A young obsessional girl said one day during analysis, pointing to the pattern on a curtain near her: ‘Do you see that thing hanging down like a little seal on a man’s watch-chain? I thought of it tied on to your husband’s penis, as if he had two penises; and then I thought the seal would rub against his penis and bruise it, and you would kiss the bruise, and his penis would be all bloody and mangled, and your lips would be covered with the blood.’ Unconscious phantasies of castrating a man and of becoming pregnant by biting off a penis were beginning to come out in projection on to the analyst. Rubbing was an important symptom in the neurosis (washing mania).

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CHAPTER TEN: Public lectures

Joan Riviere Karnac Books ePub

Joan Riviere and Melanie Klein gave public lectures in 1936 under the title, The emotional life of civilized men and women. Klein’s contribution was called ‘Love, guilt and reparation’, while Riviere spoke on ‘Hate, greed and aggression’. Although the two contributors divided their topics in such a way that Riviere seems to be emphasizing the destructive forces in man while Klein speaks more of the powerful forces of love and the wish for reparation, it is apparent in both contributions that it is impossible to separate the two. Love and hate constantly interact. Klein was emphasizing reparation, an aspect of human activity characterizing the depressive position, a stage of development which she had recently formulated. Joan Riviere considers such destructive forces as aggression, contempt, suicide, rivalry, love of power, and illustrates their operation in everyday life. As in her 1932 paper, she shows how envy and jealousy are closely allied, and how both are connected to delusional hate. She also speaks of how the individual’s sense of guilt is made more severe through suffering and deprivations, actual or imagined. Although her part in the talks stresses the destructive forces in man, she pleads for the need to understand them; only if they are accepted and their potential value appreciated, is the fear of them diminished and controlled,

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CHAPTER SIXTEEN: The inner world as seen in literature

Joan Riviere Karnac Books ePub

In this fascinating paper Riviere seeks to convey with examples from literature the ideas of the phantasies Ve all unconsciously create of harbouring others inside ourselves’. This process is mainly unconscious, but Riviere, in her elegant exposition, in non-technical terms, of poems, stories and plays, shows that even the conscious phantasy of others having an existence inside ourselves is not as unusual as some would believe. She shows how one and the same figure in our inner world can bear contradicting feelings: those of love and hate, of deep persecution and tremendous idealization. Good and bad cannot be isolated one from the other in the human mind.

The inner world which in our unconscious phantasy each of us contains inside ourselves is one of those psycho-analytical concepts that most people find especially difficult to accept or understand. It is a world of figures formed on the pattern of the persons we first loved and hated in life, who also represent aspects of ourselves. The existence even in unconscious phantasy of these inner figures and of their apparently independent activities, within us (which can be as real, or more real and actual, to us in unconscious feeling than external events) may seem incredible and incomprehensible; it might therefore perhaps be useful to approach the problem from the opposite end, as it were—that is, from the conscious level. My aim in this contribution is essentially to forge a link between certain conscious experiences, which will be familiar to most people, and the proposition that phantasies of our containing other persons inside ourselves, though deeply unconscious, do exist. For this purpose I have selected some relevant passages from literatute. Before discussing these, however, I will consider shortly the question why this proposition of internal objects seems so difficult to accept.

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CHAPTER TWO: The beauty of translation

Joan Riviere Karnac Books ePub

Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego by Sigmund Freud (1921c) was reviewed in the International Journal of Psycho-Analysis by S. Ferenczi and G. Roheim; Joan Riviere wrote a short, succint account of the translation, which had been made by James Strachey. She begins with some comments about the lack of intelligibility of the translations that had been made of Freud’s writings to date and that the recent war had prevented him from realizing these deficiencies.

She outlines incisively the difficulties of rendering the language of psychoanalysis—of the emotions—into an English that, apart from poetry, lacks a relevant vocabulary, and she speaks of the need for an accepted uniformity in the use of psychoanalytical terms. A clear and complete interpretation of the writer’s thought, free from ‘reminiscence of the original wording, has a beauty of its own’, she says, and ‘this Mr. Strachey had achieved most remarkably’.

Students of psycho-analysis who have not been able to read the works of Freud in the original, and have endeavoured to acquire some knowledge of his discoveries from the only translations available until recently, will feel a debt of gratitude to Mr. Strachey. Intelligibility in their writing is not required only of translators, but it is a consideration that ought to rank first in importance with them, and it is one that appears to have been neglected beyond all extenuation by those who had the privilege of first introducing so much of Freud’s work to the English-speaking public. Until recently, the war prevented any realization by Freud himself of the defects in the form in which his work had appeared to a great number of his readers, and efforts are now being made to improve matters in future. The fortunate circumstance that Mr. Strachey, who was lately studying with Freud, was willing to undertake the translation of one of the recent books, Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego (Freud, 1921c), leads us to hope that the high standard it sets may be maintained in further publications.

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