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CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE: A theory of communication for psychoanalysis

Neville Symington Karnac Books ePub

“. . . philosophy has been misled by the illusion of an isolated formation of the intellect”

(Dilthey, 1989, p. 264)

When I went into psychoanalysis I knew I had in me something that I wanted to be understood by another. On later reflection I realized that I wanted to understand it myself, and that this was only possible if it were first understood by another. That other person could only provide me with the understanding I was looking for provided that I communicate with him. Through inchoate communication with him I was able to come into communication with myself. This suggests that there was a me not easily accessible to the me that busied around the place in daily life and, further, that I felt a strong need to be in communication with that inaccessible me. In a nutshell, that is how I would sum up the situation when I went into psychoanalysis. You might ask, “Well, why didn’t you go to a counsellor or case-worker?” My reply would be that I sensed that the inaccessible me would require the services of someone with a special capacity to reach and communicate with a part of me, perhaps the core of me, that was hidden from view.

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19. Generation of perception and belief

Neville Symington Karnac Books ePub

It is of the very nature of the imagination to change the order in which things have been impressed on the senses, and to connect the same properties with different objects, and different properties with the same objects; to combine our original impressions in all possible forms, and to modify these impressions themselves to a very great degree. Man without this would not be a rational agent; he would be below the dullest and most stupid brute.

William Hazlitt, Essays on the Principles of Human Action
(1990, p. 41)

In his paper “Differentiation of the Psychotic from the Non-Psychotic Personalities” Wilfred Bion (1967b, pp. 47-48) describes the way in which a part of the personality is projected out into an object that, having been engulfed, then swells up. Say, the object into which the projection takes place is a telephone, then it is believed to be listening to the person. The individual’s perception is structured by this projection. When reading Bion’s paper, one may think that the case he describes is both extreme and rare. A case such as he describes, where the projection is into an inanimate object, is rare, but projection into a human being is extremely common.1 In fact, the projection is not into the person but, rather, into a hated element in the person. The projection goes into this element, which then swells up and engulfs the whole person. So, for instance, greed is detected in someone, and the greedy part is violently projected into what has been detected; then that part swells up and engulfs the whole person, so that nothing other than that one characteristic is perceived. Everything that person does is seen to be motivated by greed. In a full-blown paranoia, which is a psychiatric description for violent expulsive hatred combined with the first stage of envy, there is no room for any other motives. The hated part has been expelled and has totally engulfed the person into whom the projection has occurred.

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5. Socrates – Religious Teacher in Classical Greece

Neville Symington Karnac Books ePub

The founder of every new religion possessed at first no greater authority than the founder of a new school of philosophy. Many of them were scorned, persecuted, and even put to death, and their last appeal was always, what it ought to be – an appeal to the spirit of truth with us, and not to twelve legions of angels, nor, as in later times, to the decrees of Councils, to Papal Bulls, or to the written letter of a sacred book.

(Max Müller, 1985)

Socrates was one of the great religious teachers of the Axial Era, although he is not usually recognized as such because he did not found a religious dynasty, or at least he is the only such teacher who remains well known to posterity.

The Socrates I refer to is the one we meet in the dialogues of Plato. Most scholars are agreed that in the Republic and the Laws the Socrates we meet is merely Plato's puppet, mustered to portray Plato's philosophical arguments and probably somewhat distant from the historical Socrates. The man we are studying here is the Socrates of the early dialogues, which are much more faithful to the historical Socrates as he was.

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16. Psychotherapy and religion

Neville Symington Karnac Books ePub

I believe that the psychotherapy movement is experiencing a period of severe crisis, a crisis that is similar to and with the same roots as the crisis that is evident in organized religion throughout the Western world. I wish therefore in this chapter to start by presenting the view that the contemporary psychotherapy movement (i.e. the movement that has developed since the days of Freud) developed as a reaction to the dominant attitudes within organized religion. From there I want to go on to examine what I call traditional religion and its categories. I then go on a brief excursus into the symbolic nature of the sexual and, from there, to an examination of conscience and its formative role in mental health. This leads naturally to an examination of the great religious teachers as illuminators of conscience, and then to my view that the crisis in the psychotherapy movement lies in the philosophical nominalism that underpins it. I shall end by trying to adumbrate the hazy outline of a solution—a solution that lies in the development of a concept of the Good within the sphere of human intimacy. I should add that the reader may notice certain similarities between this chapter and the previous one in viewpoints argued and concepts presented. However, the excision of such overlap in either chapter would have resulted in a dilution of what I am trying to say.

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CHAPTER ELEVEN: Migration from the Tavistock: impetus for mental change

Neville Symington Karnac Books ePub

“There are tumults of mind, like the great convulsions of nature, all seems anarchy and returning chaos, yet often, in those moments of vast disturbance, as in the material strife itself, some new principle of order, or some new impulse of conduct, develops itself, and controls, and regulates, and brings to an harmonious consequence, passions and elements which seemed only to threaten despair and subversion”

(Disraeli, 1845, p. 284)

I worked at the Tavistock as a senior staff member in the Adult I Department from 1978 to 1985. I had for two years prior to 1978 given a series of lectures to social workers. So I worked at the Tavistock for a period of nine years in total. During that time I acquired a very unfortunate reputation: that I was believed to be good at public speaking. On the basis of that reputation I was asked to give a series of thirty lectures on “Psychoanalytic theory” to mental health professionals from the three departments of the Tavistock. My credentials at the time were minimal and my acceptance of the offer can be put down mainly to ambition and grandiosity. Grandiosity forbade me to refuse offers to speak. I remember in one year counting that, in addition to the standard thirty lectures at the Tavistock, I gave a further seventeen in different places, reaching a total of forty-seven lectures in a single year. The inability to say “No” to these ever-increasing requests meant that the reservoir was almost empty. An academic once confided to me that he was living on capital—intellectual capital, that is—and my position was not dissimilar. I knew the reservoir had to be refilled so, with wife and family, we moved camp across the world to New South Wales. On the way we stopped for eight months at a staging post in the south of France in the little village of Seillans, nestling in the hills of Provence. So, in that idyllic spot with our two boys at the local village school, we refilled the reservoir and more.

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