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CHAPTER SIX Developmental evolution within the works of Donald W. Winnicott: psychic and transitional space

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CHAPTER SIX

Developmental evolution within the works of Donald W. Winnicott: psychic and transitional space

ccording to Rodman (2004), Winnicott’s biographer, Anna

Freud wrote to Winnicott that his “transitional object” concept had taken the world by storm. The transitional object is an external other that serves a mothering role in facilitating development.

The transitional object is not a symbolic representative of the primal holding mother (the symbiotic or chthonic mother), but is the symbolic representative of Winnicott’s transitional phase mother, equivalent to the mother of separation in the American separation–individuation stage parlance of Mahler (1971). The transitional object represents the mother who is more separate from the child than the early infant-holding mother (the mother of the primal “unity”), and is symbolic of a mother who is affectively present and attuned to the child. However, unlike the early holding mother who, through the reverie of psychic fantasy, has merged with her helpless and totally dependent infant, the transitional object mother does not symbolically fuse with the child and, ideally, she imposes no personal or narcissistic demands on the child. By being more separate from the child than the holding mother, the transitional object mother can relate to the child’s developmental needs through words and vision without having concrete sensual body contact (see Wright, 1991). Whoever occupies the role of the

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Chapter Seven - Dynamics of Transitional Space: Pathological Foreclosure vs. Expansion in Clinical Treatment

Kavaler-Adler, Susan Karnac Books ePub

In this chapter, a psychobiographical example is given to illustrate how the Winnicottian dimension of transitional space, which corresponds to the internal world's psychic space, becomes foreclosed in those who are arrested with severe character pathology, without the intervention of object relations psychoanalytic treatment. Then, several clinical vignettes are offered to illustrate the contrast of how two patients who underwent an in-depth “developmental mourning” process in object relations psychoanalytic treatment were able to open up the transitional space in their lives, corresponding with the internal psychic space in their intrapsychic life.

The psychobiographical example pertains to the lives I have studied in my former books. In The Creative Mystique: From Red Shoes Frenzy to Love and Creativity (1996), I have an extensive study of the life of Virginia Woolf. In this chapter, which was published earlier in my newly edited The Compulsion to Create: Women Writers and Their Demon Lovers (2013), I cite some of the life phenomena that show the tragic foreclosure of transitional space in the life of Virginia Woolf. Following this, I offer clinical case vignettes from patients who pursued extensive object relations psychoanalytic treatment. It will be seen that these psychoanalytic patients (or analysands) were able dramatically to expand the dimensions of their lives, despite early pre-oedipal trauma, as well as later childhood trauma. Their internal worlds can be visited because they offered so much evidence of their growth from reporting dreams and fantasies from their internal worlds, as well as illustrating the expanding dimensions of their lives (their transitional space) in the changes within their external lives.

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Chapter Three - The Phenomenological Theory Stands on its Own: Death Instinct as Demon Lover

Kavaler-Adler, Susan Karnac Books ePub

The demonic bad object as the price of pre-oedipal stage arrest and idealisation

Those with defensive idealisation as a primary organising factor in their psyches inevitably split others into idealised and devalued figures. When the object is looked up to for creative inspiration, the idealised object becomes a muse figure, and the bad object becomes a demonic muse, or demon-lover figure. The demon lover evolves from early negative parent objects, combined with split-off or dissociated rage, and it is also the result of a split-off idealised image of the early parent. The idealised constellation of self and other exists in a polarised but isolated dimension of the psyche in relation to the bad object/demon-lover constellation. The rage associated with the demon lover is unneutralised; because it is sealed off in its dissociated state, as it remains unmodified by sustained internal love connections. The resulting visceral self-part (more than an impulse) combines with a negative parent representation, producing a powerful sadistic aggression that becomes personified as a demon. When eroticised, the personified demon turns to the unconscious psychic fantasy of a demon lover.

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Chapter Five - Facing the Ghost of Failures in Mothering. Regret Evolving into Love and Play: The Case of Anastasia, Part I

Kavaler-Adler, Susan Karnac Books ePub

CHAPTER FIVE

Facing the ghost of failures in mothering. Regret evolving into love and play: the case of Anastasia, Part I

In the course of an analysis, profound psychic transformations evolve as psychic regret is consciously confronted. This involves the opening up of depressive position capacities for viewing things increasingly from another's subjective perspective, for differentiating that perspective from one's own, and for facing one's insatiable hungers, referred to as “greed” by Klein (1957). The case to be offered illustrates how psychic regret made conscious can lead to growth in self-agency and self-reflection, to an awareness of yearnings for intimacy, to an awareness of psychic and interpersonal space, as well as to the awareness of the phenomenal aliveness in “just being together”. Other insights into an awareness of one's own needs and motivations arising through regret involve awareness of one's own grandiosity, and of one's sense of missing something within that is revealed to be an early connection with the primal other: the pre-Oedipal mother. Cognitive capacities for differentiation are enlarged as self-reflection is expanded through the grief-laden insights that come with regret. In this way, defensive distancing from both internal and external object relations connections can be retraced to the past in terms of a repetition of early disruption in object relations bonding with the mother. The past and present can be sorted out. There is also a new growth in a capacity for containment of instinctual impulses, as well as for compassion for the other, and a sustaining of a more full whole object capacity to love.

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CHAPTER ONE Melanie Klein, like Moses on the way to the Promised Land: a case of pathological mourning

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CHAPTER TITLE

1

CHAPTER ONE

Melanie Klein, like Moses on the way to the Promised Land: a case of pathological mourning

he Bible records Moses as having led the Israelites through the desert for forty years. Moses is reported as having spoken to

G-d on Mt. Sinai, and as having vented his retaliatory rage at his people, on the night when he encountered their sin (in the episode with the golden calf). The Bible also reports how Moses paid dearly for his retaliatory rage. Moses’ own precious vision for the Jewish people would never be completely his. According to the Bible and its myth, Moses would spend the time of a generation in the desert. He would watch the children of his flock grow to adulthood. Only in old age would Moses view the holy land that he himself could never enter, due to the impulsive rage attack upon others. Consequently,

Moses’ vision was both his greatest gift and his greatest curse, for

Moses could foresee what he himself could not participate in. He would stay behind, while the second generation of Israelites, the children of those he had parted the Red Sea for and had entered the desert with, entered the land of Israel.

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CHAPTER NINE Narcissistic mirroring as perversion of developmental mourning

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CHAPTER NINE

Narcissistic mirroring as perversion of developmental mourning

Impingement vs. recognition arcissistic parents can pervert developmentally facilitating mirroring into an impinging mode of mirroring, “impinging” being a Winnicottian term. This impinging narcissistic mirroring demands the contrived and “reactive” false-self performance from the child (Winnicott, 1971b). Where the mirroring face of the mother allows for the child’s recognition of his inner emotional and self-state, the mirroring of a narcissistic parent reflects back recognition only for the performing behaviour that pleases the parent’s narcissistic view. This is not Winnicott’s depressed mother who mirrors back her own lousy mood, but the more omnipotent type of mother Winnicott referred to in his writings. And, although Winnicott did not deal with the father, the father has a primal (even if only secondary) effect on development (Kavaler-Adler, 1985, 1986). It is often the father who provides a form of narcissistic mirroring that encourages the child’s defensive compensation for earlier psychological lacks, wounds, or deprivations with the mother.

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Chapter Three - From Crime to Regret: An Affect-Level View of Psychic Transformation and the Capacity to Love

Kavaler-Adler, Susan Karnac Books ePub

CHAPTER THREE

From crime to regret: an affect-level view of psychic transformation and the capacity to love

Identification with the aggressor was originally understood as an ego defence mechanism, as described originally by Anna Freud (1936) in her book, The Ego and Its Mechanisms of Defense. The more profound role of this psychic dynamic could not be understood until psychoanalysts had a larger view of psychic change in terms of developmental growth in object relations theory. As an overriding personality dynamic and as a character defence, rather than merely as a neurotic defence mechanism, “identification with the aggressor” can be seen to operate on the psychic fulcrum of addiction to an old and primal object. In essence, one identifies with the original parent object's hostile aggression towards oneself; that is, any aggression that disrupts basic self needs for good-enough object connection, and continually enacts this hostility either against the self or against another. If one enacts the hostile aggression towards another, it is usually an intimate other upon whom one feels emotionally dependent, one who, in part, serves as a displacement figure for the original parent to whom one is still profoundly tied. The identification becomes an attempt to hold on to the original object, and to seek the love one feels deprived of, by becoming like the depriving object.

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CHAPTER EIGHT Winnicott’s contribution to the understanding of mirroring as a developmental process: the Klein–Winnicott dialectic within

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CHAPTER EIGHT

Winnicott’s contribution to the understanding of mirroring as a developmental process: the Klein–Winnicott dialectic within

n 1967, Winnicott wrote his paper, “Mirror-role of the mother and family in child development”. In doing so, he brought a primary aspect of developmental functioning to the awareness of psychoanalysts. Freudian and Kleinian analysts (who thought solely in terms of interpreting unconscious impulses or fantasies to make them conscious through interpretation) would greatly resist the developmental perspective that Winnicott was introducing into the British

Psychoanalytic Society. Analysed by a Kleinian analyst, Joan Riviere,

Winnicott would constantly find his ideas and their developmental focus on the environmental other, the mother and, later, the analyst, rejected and misunderstood. In America, Freudian analysts who congregated as medical elite in the conclave of the New York Psychoanalytic Institute, were even more rejecting (Rodman, 2004).

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Chapter Two - Conscious Regret in Clinical Treatment Engendering a Critical Turn Towards Love and Creativity Healing a Schizoid Woman and her Family: The Case of Sharon

Kavaler-Adler, Susan Karnac Books ePub

CHAPTER TWO

Conscious regret in clinical treatment engendering a critical turn towards love and creativity, healing a schizoid woman and her family: the case of Sharon

Acritical distinction between Kleinian object relations theory and that of other schools of object relations thinking, particularly in the USA, is that Kleinian thinking (1940) is attuned to the element of existential guilt as a factor in psychic change. By contrast, the other schools of object relations thinking focus on the affective element of loss alone as having developmental significance in relation to healing trauma and resolving developmental arrest.

Mahler's (1967) object relations theory, for example, speaks of the capacity to tolerate the grief of loss as a pivotal determinant of separation–individuation. Mahler does not speak about guilt as interacting with loss in her view of psychic change evolving from the navigation of the separation–individuation phases of development, even though she does acknowledge a range of mourning experience to be natural for separation–individuation to take place. Mahler speaks of a mild form of depressive affect experience, which she calls “low keyedness” (Mahler, Pine, & Bergman, 1975). Such low keyedness takes place in normal and timely separation–individuation processes, where there has been the internalisation of good enough mothering and mother bonding. A more intense form of grief takes place when separation–individuation has been arrested. This more intense form of grief has been called an “abandonment depression” by Masterson (1976, 1981), who follows Mahler's (1967) theory and schema of development, particularly in pathological cases of developmental arrest. Another object relations theorist, the British theorist Michael Balint (1979), speaks of mourning in his “basic fault” cases of pre-Oedipal developmental arrest. Bowlby (1969, 1980), likewise, speaks of normal mourning for psychic development, as well as psychic change. Masterson (1971–1985), Balint (1965, 1979), and Bowlby (1963, 1969, 1980), like Mahler (1967–1975), do not mention the pain and anguish of guilt as an existential and affective aspect of mourning and grief. They only refer to grief in terms of object loss. Fairbairn (1952), another object relations theorist, speaks of relinquishing old object relations ties in a traumatic separation process, but refers more to exorcism of bad objects than to any mourning process. When Fairbairn uses the word “guilt”, he refers to a spurious or false form of guilt that is essentially a masochistic defence of self-blame, a defence which serves to deny the demonic or “bad object” aspects of the real parent. Authentic existential guilt is never dealt with by Fairbairn.

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Chapter Seven - The Grief of Regret Motivating Commitment to Marriage in a Woman: Sarah's Extramarital Affair

Kavaler-Adler, Susan Karnac Books ePub

CHAPTER SEVEN

The grief of regret motivating commitment to marriage in a woman: Sarah's extramarital affair

Commitment that is fully realised at a psychic level is not so often achieved.

Couples who have early loss and trauma in their lives are particularly prone to defend against full commitment to one another. In spite of this, when the losses can be faced and mourned, increasing degrees of commitment and sustained intimacy can be achieved. Equally important to mourning early losses, however, is the mourning of the grief of regret related to failures in commitment. The full conscious experience of one's regret concerning shortcomings in commitment can actually become the turning point of a marriage. The case of Sarah illustrates this.

Sarah entered psychotherapy for the first time after being married for fourteen years. She realised that she had never fully been able to commit to her husband. She told me that she wanted to understand her difficulties in making a commitment to a husband. She had kept a journal of her thoughts and feelings, and wanted to read this journal to me once she chose me as her psychoanalyst. She hoped that by sharing all of her intimate thoughts, she would be able to receive help in understanding what propelled her away from her husband, both earlier in their marriage, and during the affair. She also hoped to come to understand how losses earlier in her life, such as the death of her older brother when she was fourteen, might have made her involvement with her husband difficult. She told me that she had been very close to her older brother when she was young, in a way that she had never felt with her younger brother, or with her sister. She also told me that she had re-experienced memories of being close to him and of losing him. She said that remembering him was very painful. She said that her feelings of loss had stayed with her over a long period of time.

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Chapter Four - Explicating and Utilising the Phenomenological Theory

Kavaler-Adler, Susan Karnac Books ePub

Winnicott (1965, 1975) wrote about the formation of a “true self” in a human being who begins life in a dyadic relationship with a mother, who hopefully can offer “primary maternal preoccupation” to facilitate her infant's developmental growth into the state of having a “self”. In dialectic with this, Klein offers us a phenomenological theory that can be fleshed out in developmental terms, but which also offers us the poignancy of a theorist who has lived very close to the existential nature of human suffering. In fact, Klein's phenomenology looks at moral growth through the lens of a human heart that bears its imprint on psychic experience.

Klein's phenomenological theory is one of two primary psychic state positions, each having its own unique constellation of defences, modes of object relations, and psychic structure. In The Matrix of the Mind, Ogden (1986) has done an admirable job of offering clinical examples for the different mental experience of the two positions. Prior to his work, Segal (1964) gave clinical examples in An Introduction to Melanie Klein. My own books, The Compulsion to Create: Women Writers and Their Demon Lovers (Kavaler-Adler, 1993a), The Creative Mystique: From Red Shoes Frenzy to Love and Creativity (Kavaler-Adler, 1996), and Mourning, Spirituality and Psychic Change: A New Object Relations View of Psychoanalysis (Kavaler-Adler, 2003b), also offer such clinical examples. Here, I wish to merely make some fundamental observations about the importance of Klein's psychic position theory and its independence from a metapsychology based on the death instinct.

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Chapter Nine - Narcissistic Mirroring as Perversion of Developmental Mourning

Kavaler-Adler, Susan Karnac Books ePub

Impingement vs. recognition

Narcissistic parents can pervert developmentally facilitating mirroring into an impinging mode of mirroring, “impinging” being a Winnicottian term. This impinging narcissistic mirroring demands the contrived and “reactive” false-self performance from the child (Winnicott, 1971b). Where the mirroring face of the mother allows for the child's recognition of his inner emotional and self-state, the mirroring of a narcissistic parent reflects back recognition only for the performing behaviour that pleases the parent's narcissistic view. This is not Winnicott's depressed mother who mirrors back her own lousy mood, but the more omnipotent type of mother Winnicott referred to in his writings. And, although Winnicott did not deal with the father, the father has a primal (even if only secondary) effect on development (Kavaler-Adler, 1985, 1986). It is often the father who provides a form of narcissistic mirroring that encourages the child's defensive compensation for earlier psychological lacks, wounds, or deprivations with the mother.

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CHAPTER TEN Loneliness in dialectic with solitude

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CHAPTER TEN

Loneliness in dialectic with solitude

n 1963, Melanie Klein was writing her paper, “On the sense of loneliness”, at relatively the same time that Winnicott (1958) was writing his paper, “The capacity to be alone”, which outlined the prerequisites for solitude. In Rodman’s (2004) Biography of D. W.

Winnicott, he points out this intriguing synchronicity. In doing so, he inspired me to look at the biographical and clinical contrasts pertaining to loneliness and solitude, with the accompanying dialectics that paint a theoretical and clinical chiaroscuro.

As we look at the interplay between Klein’s thinking on “loneliness” and Winnicott’s thinking on solitude as the “capacity to be alone”, we look at a dialectic that represents the larger domain of psychoanalytic thinking. It is the domain of the whole school of intersubjective thinking of self psychology and relational psychoanalysis, and it is related to Winnicott’s “transitional” phenomena, in contrast and in interaction with the whole classical domain of psychoanalysis, the domain which has seen its “depth” in terms of journeys into the intrapsychic interiors of human beings. This perspective began with

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INTRODUCTION A developmental theory ofpsychological health based on the Klein–Winnicott dialectic and related object relations thinking

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INTRODUCTION

A developmental theory of psychological health based on the

Klein–Winnicott dialectic and related object relations thinking

British object relations theory since the time of Melanie Klein, Ronald

Fairbairn, D. W. Winnicott, Michael Balint, Hanna Segal, and Wilfred

Bion has made enormous theoretical contributions to the clinical practice of psychological healing in all of humanity, and particularly in those with developmental arrests who develop character disorders.

These theorists have made their contributions without discarding

Freud’s enormous contributions to the practice of psychoanalysis for neurotic patients. However, due to the politics of psychoanalysis as it has been practised in Britain, those who have been influenced by the

Kleinian tradition—including the profound contributions of Hanna

Segal, Paula Heimann, Rosenfeld, and Wilfred Bion—have seen themselves as directly in conflict with those followers of D. W. Winnicott, who have called themselves the British “Middle Group”.

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CHAPTER THREE The phenomenological theory stands on its own: death instinct as demon lover

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CHAPTER THREE

The phenomenological theory stands on its own: death instinct as demon lover

The demonic bad object as the price of pre-oedipal stage arrest and idealisation hose with defensive idealisation as a primary organising factor in their psyches inevitably split others into idealised and devalued figures. When the object is looked up to for creative inspiration, the idealised object becomes a muse figure, and the bad object becomes a demonic muse, or demon-lover figure. The demon lover evolves from early negative parent objects, combined with split-off or dissociated rage, and it is also the result of a split-off idealised image of the early parent. The idealised constellation of self and other exists in a polarised but isolated dimension of the psyche in relation to the bad object/demon-lover constellation. The rage associated with the demon lover is unneutralised; because it is sealed off in its dissociated state, as it remains unmodified by sustained internal love connections.

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