10 Chapters
Medium 9781855752498

7. The combined part-object in infant observation and practice

Sanders, Kenneth Karnac Books ePub

Infant observation seminars were introduced at the Tavistock Clinic, London, in 1948 when the course in Child Psychotherapy began. In 1960 they were added to the curriculum of the London Institute of Psycho-Analysis, as their help to students in developing a psychoanalytical model of the mind was established (Bick, 1964, p. 240).

Melanie Klein had written in her paper, “On Observing the Behaviour of Young Infants”:

The new-born infant suffers from persecutory anxiety aroused by the process of birth and by the loss of the intra-uterine situation. A prolonged or difficult delivery is bound to intensify this anxiety. Another aspect of this anxiety situation is the necessity forced on the infant to adapt himself to entirely new conditions. These feelings are in some degree relieved by the various measures taken to give him warmth, support and comfort, particularly by the gratification he feels in receiving food and in sucking the breast. These experiences culminating in the first experience of sucking, initiate we may assume, the relation to the “good mother”. It appears that these gratifications in some way also go towards making up for the loss of the intra-uterine state. From the first feeding experience onwards, losing and regaining the loved object (the good breast) become an essential part of infantile life. [Klein, 1952, p. 94]

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8. The Oedipus complex and introjective identification

Sanders, Kenneth Karnac Books ePub

Introjective identification implies the enigmatic concept of relinquishment of a love object. If possession is surrendered, but not the desire, then the loved one is restored—but only as structure in the mind. The context is birth and weaning and their symbolic successors, and in each case the consequence is that in place of looking back at what has been given up, there is looking forward to development through identification. This mystery is familiar from theology, which suggests that religion is something to do with to psychoanalysis.

The Oedipus complex and internalization processes in the mind of the child were linked by Freud in a famous passage in which he recognized that the bisexuality of children required the renunciation of both mother and father and that structures identified with both of them would then be set up in the ego:

the broad general outcome of the sexual phase dominated by the Oedipus complex may, therefore be taken to be the forming of a precipitate in the ego, consisting of these two identifications in some way united with each other. This modification of the ego retains its special position; it confronts the other contents of the ego as an ideal or super ego. [Freud, 1923b, p. 34]

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5. The mermaid and the sirens

Sanders, Kenneth Karnac Books ePub

The series of dreams described here illustrates the themes of geographical confusion and the improvement in the structure of the personality following its resolution.

* * *

The analysand was apparently well, but she complained of a loss of meaning in the direction her life was taking. She likened herself to a mermaid who can see men on land but is unable to reach them. This thought came at a family wedding, when her attention was caught by a graceful, petite young woman in a full-length sequinned dress. As she approached her fortieth year, she described herself as a creature who might wish to be human and live on land but who was confined to her own watery medium and her gloomy asexual view of the world. Her sense of sanctuary came from identification with a group of like-minded friends: but evidence from her dream life was that her child self inhabited an interior world, inside her internal mother, and attempts to rescue her were frustrated by her timidity about life outside.

After this, I looked again at the Hans Christian Andersen story of the little mermaid, whose famous likeness in the form of a pensive adolescent sits on rock in Copenhagen harbour. Her story is that she is allowed on her fifteenth birthday to come to the surface and look at the world above. A storm blows up, and she rescues a prince from a shipwreck, swimming with him to the shore and to safety. The prince is grateful but has plans to marry a princess. The little mermaid returns, very upset, to her home in the sea. She meets an undersea witch, who gives her a knife and the ability to walk on land so that she can kill the prince on his wedding night. However, when the moment comes, she cannot do it, and for her good she deed lives happily ever after, but as a mermaid.

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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.

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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.

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