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CHAPTER TWO On the birth of experience

Eigen, Michael Karnac Books PDF

CHAPTER TWO

On the birth of experience

he mystery of dreams is deeply connected with the birth of experience. We have an urge to know what dreams mean but often take for granted the field of perception that make dreams possible. Could dreams exist without the seamless perceptual world that seems effortlessly given to us? Dreams make use of the objects of daily life, sky, earth, water, mountains, people, dramas, and, above all, emotions that populate our objects, fear, dread, desire, care, reaching for fulfilment, loss. I say reaching for fulfilment for, I suspect, more dreams abort fulfilment than achieve it. Dreams often express fragmentary states, aborted states, states that break off before a successful end. As if dreams attempt to communicate something unsatisfactory about our fragmentary lives.

One can also posit the opposite, that the perception of our world we take for granted depends on unconscious dream-work. Freud writes that experience of the external world is made possible by projection of internal space. If what he calls “the it” (das Es) is the primary psychical reality and ego and superego develop from it, these structures require “space”. This view posits the first space as internal psychical space out of contact with external reality that plays a role in structuring growing experience of externality. If the “it” helps to

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Appendix 5: Bion’s Grid

Eigen, Michael Karnac Books ePub

Figure 1. Bion’s Grid.

When Bion was in New York (1978), he placed little emphasis on the grid. His main emphasis was on the living session. In experiential terms, he felt the lived session was in row C, dream thoughts, dreams, and myths. If you were D through F, the chances were you were not in the session, not in the felt moment. At most, the grid was for between session reflection about the emotional experience of the lived session, a way of taking a session apart and re-situating it along a number of dimensions that might improve discernment of processes. He wrote of it as a kind of psychic exercise, keeping alpha function alive and in repair, keeping intuition alive.

As he spoke, I wondered if he was consigning the grid to a kind of scrap heap, much the same as Husserl did with his early attempts to mathematise consciousness. Husserl decided that a mathematics of consciousness was not possible (at least from his horizon) and turned full attention to delineating structures of experience and came to be known as the “father of twentieth century phenomenology”.

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CHAPTER FIVE What is evil?

Eigen, Michael Karnac Books PDF

EIGEN Book_Eigen5 correx 27/06/2014 15:32 Page 41

CHAPTER FIVE

What is evil?

What is evil? It is a little like Pontius Pilate saying, “What is truth?”

Where does one go to find a definition that would set what is truly evil off from bad things that happen? Much destruction goes on in life.

Two great wishes of humankind are that there should be no evil or death.

No evil or death. We are partly defined by a capacity to wish the impossible. To wish the impossible and somewhere feel it might be possible. When Freud claimed there is no “no” in the unconscious, he might have meant we are the kind of creatures that believe the impossible is possible. More, that it is real. The impossible is real now—and this sense informs the feel of reality. And when reality does not conform to our vision of bliss, we may call it evil.

What does reality want of us? One answer is absolutely nothing. A terrifying answer. Shakespeare suggested we live a masquerade within which is nothing. A relief? Does nothing free us from evil spectres? Or clear a way for them?

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CHAPTER TWO: Spirituality and addiction

Eigen, Michael Karnac Books ePub

Aconnection between spirituality and addiction has been noted since ancient times. Closer to today, in the 1960s we heard a lot about drugs and transcendence. People took drugs and alcohol not only to escape, but to find themselves. Heroin, marijuana, cocaine, LSD, and alcohol opened the self, blew past the self, deepened the self, taking one to places one could not reach otherwise. Casualties were great, including psychotic episodes, hospitalizations, suicide, and compromised functioning. Yet, some gained from it, tasted great horizons, nourished creativity.

An issue was how to channel or control usage to optimize benefits and minimize harm. I have no idea how many solved this satisfactorily or how. Over forty years later, I have people in my practice with strong addictive tendencies and usage who function well enough, and even prosper, as creative beings. But I am also aware of wreckage, those destroyed by usage, and those who would have been destroyed without help. In this chapter, I am mostly concerned about this last group.

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CHAPTER SIX: Tears of pain and beauty: mixed voices

Eigen, Michael Karnac Books ePub

Kurt was ambivalent about coming into my office. His hesitancy showed up in his difficulty making an appointment. For several months he called and hung up, then left messages I could not quite understand and phone numbers that did not work. Finally, by some act of grace or a happy click of a psychic slot machine, we made contact.

Ten minutes past our appointment time, I found him standing outside my door when I went to check the mail. He could not bring himself to walk in or ring. He knew from our phone contact that I leave the outer door unlocked and that he could come in to the waiting room. He could not say why he was standing there, whether he was paralysed, wanting to be there and not wanting to, tempted to run away, dash out of the building and on to the street, where he felt safe. For him, walking the streets meant freedom.

When he came in he looked at me sternly and repeated over and over: “The simplest kind of proposition, an elementary proposition, asserts the existence of a state of affairs.”

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