10 Chapters
Medium 9781855752498

10. Epilogue: claustrophilia and the “perennial philosophy”

Sanders, Kenneth Karnac Books ePub

A historical approach to psychoanalysis and the study of confusion between internal and external reality leads the enquirer on to other related areas of thought: to the lives and works of artists and scientists, and to the history of religion and philosophy, where I imagine psychoanalysis lying dormant, awaiting discovery.

Freud wrote of religion as an illusion; he declared himself a pagan and wrote of man as “a creature of weak intelligence who is ruled by his instinctual wishes” (Freud, 1927c, p. 49). Hence his theory of dreams—wish-fulfilments—but in practice he largely ignored the theory and treated them as communications between inner and outer reality (Meltzer, 1983).

The two realities are the key to Klein’s work. She found 10-year-old Richard living in an internal world very different from that of his parents’ home, a world inhabited by superegos who had usurped his ego-ideals (Klein, 1961). Freud’s view that oedipal ambivalence to the parental couple is a source of pain was amply confirmed, and splitting of the ego was revealed as a primary mechanism of defence against it.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781855752498

2. An adolescent emerges from confusion

Sanders, Kenneth Karnac Books ePub

In contrast to the plight of the confused young man who was unable to imagine what psychoanalytic help might be, as described in chapter one, this situation with a confused 16-year-old allowed psychoanalysis to proceed.

* * *

I had first met “Jim” in a general practice setting when he was 5 years old. His parents’ worry then was about his enuresis, but they also told me that he was generally bad-tempered, he masturbated in front of the television, and sometimes he slept with his finger in his anus. When a star chart had been suggested—a star as a reward for a dry night—he had replied, “What’s the use? I’ll never be dry.”

I was told that Jim was very good with his two younger siblings and showed no jealousy, although his mother was still breastfeeding the baby. He was a bold and excitable little boy whose cheeks were rouged red, like a clown’s, and who prowled round the room as I talked to his mother. At one point he growled in a comical way, which his mother explained was an imitation of a detective dog in a television cartoon. At the end of our short talk I described the problem as a struggle in his mind between a naughty Jim and a good Jim: the naughty Jim takes control when he’s asleep and enjoys wetting the bed, in the same way that he enjoys the masturbation, while the good Jim is worried about the trouble and extra work for his mother—and might be willing to work with me as “detective’s assistant” in the investigation of the problem. Jim had been listening carefully and now joked that he would keep one eye open while he slept—he squinted and closed one eye in a comical fashion. He pointed to his genital and his bottom and said something about bad food coming out of them.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781855752498

4. Identification and the toileting of the mind

Sanders, Kenneth Karnac Books ePub

Tlhe history of toileting the mind in psychoanalysis begins with Freud’s colleague Breuer. His patient Anna O called it “chimney-sweeping”. “I used to visit her in the evening, when I knew I should find her in her hypnosis and then I relieved her of the whole stock of imaginative products which had accumulated since my last visit”, he wrote (Freud, 1895d, p. 30). But Anna O’s relief eventually threatened Breuer’s own composure, and he withdrew when the “stock of imaginative products” began to disturb his relationship with his wife. Evidently, the procedure was dangerous. Freud learned from this and his own experience that prospective analysts needed to be trained if a toileting function were to be offered to the mentally disturbed.

The psychological need for catharsis of the emotions has long been acknowledged—Aristotle described it as a function of tragedy in the theatre. The law and the religions have their own problems with confession, purging, punishment—and forgiveness. It was the insistence by Freud that “sin” and its punishment originated in the minds of children that eventually brought enlightenment to this area of darkness and confusion.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781855752498

6. The combined part-object: from “the woman with a penis” to “the breast-and-nipple”

Sanders, Kenneth Karnac Books ePub

This brief history of the psychoanalytic concept of the combined object—and the combined part-object—begins with a line from a letter Freud wrote in 1897 to his friend Fliess about his hope of discovering in witches a link with hysteria. “Their ‘flying’ is explained; the broomstick they ride on is probably the Great Lord Penis” (Freud, 1950 [1892-1899], p. 242).

This persecutory object—”the woman with a penis”—was taken up later by Klein but disappeared from Freud’s theoretical concepts: “the object” was seen as mindless, as, indeed, were the instincts. In 1905, the definition of the “object” was the person from whom sexual attraction proceeds (Freud, 1905d, p. 135). When the details of pregenital infantile sexuality, anal and oral, were worked out in the following decade, the “partial object” was formally established in connection with it in the developmental table drawn up by Abraham (1924).

By 1932 Melanie Klein had introduced the idea of “the object” as a parental presence that had a value—good or bad—and the term “combined object” signified the mother and father experienced in phantasy as a “bad object”—that is, the sexual couple in the “woman with a penis” tradition of Freud’s witch. “Splitting and idealization” of the mother saved the “good object”—the asexual mother, and at part-object level, her breast—from the depressive consequences of ambivalence.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781855752498

1. Prologue and a consultation

Sanders, Kenneth Karnac Books ePub

”This in my view is the heart of the matter of Post-Kleinian psychology: that to Freud’s four categories of exposition— dynamic, genetic, structural and economic—there has been added in increasing detail the investigation of geographic and epistemological aspects of mental functioning. Whether the Aesthetic aspect will eventually take on sufficient distinctness to add a seventh category remains to be seen.”

Donald Meltzer, The Claustrum, 1992, p. 50

Psychoanalysis lends itself to a historical approach, and to following with awe the evolution of discoveries such as infantile sexuality, the transference, and the identification process that linked mourning and melancholia. There is also the drama of observing genius struggling with problems that only become clearer to subsequent generations.

In his autobiography, Freud (1925d [1924], p. 19) describes how his colleague Breuer told him about “the peculiar manner” that had allowed him to penetrate deeply into the causation and significance of hysterical symptoms, which also included “depressive confusion”. The peculiar method was to ask Anna O—a 20-year-old woman—to tell him, under hypnosis, the thoughts that she had suppressed at her father’s sickbed.

See All Chapters

See All Chapters