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Medium 9781855753297

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN: Methodological principles of psychoanalysis and the psychotherapies

Green, Andre Karnac Books ePub

Everything I have just described highlights the fragile conditions in which the analytic setting is implemented. It is often the case that the parameters that ensure the optimal conditions for conducting an effective analytic treatment cannot be realized. This is why we attempt to transform the extremely rigorous situation of analytic communication into a less demanding form, when it becomes clear that is necessary to be satisfied with less in order to be able to move forwards. We then make the experiment of modifying the numerous requirements of the setting, such as switching to the face-to-face arrangement, a situation that the patient seems to tolerate better, and which allows the process to get going again. Many psychoanalysts have shown themselves to be in favour of this technique, after realizing that more satisfactory analytic work could be achieved face to face.

It is far from my intention here to contest the advantages of the face-to-face technique over the difficulties of applying the classical psychoanalytic method. I have witnessed many stagnant situations where the only means of getting a process going again was to abandon the classical psychoanalytic method. But noting encouraging results does not exempt us from enquiring into the differences.

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Medium 9781855751781

3: The Borderline Concept

Green, Andre Karnac Books ePub

3

The Borderline Concept

A Conceptual Framework for the Understanding of Borderline Patients

However, there are some things the Other cannot see.

Charlotte, in A. MORGENSTERN'S

Experiences within a Borderline Syndrome

Just as the hysteric was the typical patient of Freud's time, the borderline is the problem patient of our time, remarked Knight (1953) more than twenty years ago. We may question Knight's opinion regarding Freud's own patients, for they can no longer be understood simply within the limits of their hysterical neurosis (Deutsch, 1957). But there is little question when it comes to borderline patients and our time. In fact, Freud's own case of the ‘Wolf Man’ (Freud, 1918b) may well serve as the paradigm for many of our current concerns in psychoanalytic treatment and theory. The mythical prototype of the patient of our time is no longer Oedipus but Hamlet.

Since the first clinical descriptions of the borderline patient almost half a century ago (Stern, 1938), an enormous amount of work – clinical data, technical variations, theoretical constructs – has accumulated in the psychoanalytic literature. We now say we are ready for a decisive confrontation of our established ideas with a new insight. If we limit ourselves to the clinical data, we can safely assume that we will find large areas of common experience. If we discuss techniques, however, it is more probable that we will disagree. If we speak of theory, it is almost certain that we shall part ways. In short, we can share our perceptions but not our conceptions – perhaps because we nurture different preconceptions.

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Medium 9781855751781

13: The Double and the Absent

Green, Andre Karnac Books ePub

13

The Double and the Absent

If it is true that the existence of motion is proved by the act of walking, a similar logic may relieve us of the need to justify applying psychoanalysis to the study of literary texts. There are, in any case, a considerable number of works which argue in favour of just such an approach (Clancier, 1973). The act of walking, however, does not exempt us from posing questions about our course. All the more since, despite authoritative contributions to the field, the efforts of psychoanalytical criticism are greeted with such reticence. Freud himself experienced this. Today, psychoanalytical criticism is even more thoroughly challenged – to begin with, by literary theorists who criticize it for all sorts of reasons. They claim, for example, that it ties the work too closely to an analysis of the author, even though many works of psychoanalytical criticism deal exclusively with the text and leave aside the always conjectural biographical approach. In cases where criticism confines itself to the text, the psychoanalytical critic is blamed for attaching too much importance to one meaning of a work while neglecting the others (social meanings, for example), even though the analyst has always pointed out that his approach in no way claims to be exhaustive. Finally, criticisms will be levelled at the fact that his perspective focuses on the non-literary, and neglects the ‘literal’ aspect of the work – as though the literal were not a means of gaining access to the non-literal which always underlies and shapes it.

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Medium 9781855759602

12. Returning to origins: translation and drives

Andre Green Karnac Books ePub

Even more than the exegesis of Freudian texts, the isolation of the problem of certain concepts at the moment of their origin is worthy of interest. In an effort comprising both the desire to convince Fliess and the questions Freud asks himself about the deductions to be made from the newly-born treatment of neuroses, writing reveals the double movement of such an interior quest, striving to grasp threads which sometimes spread out in opposing directions or are so densely intertwined that the pattern of their entanglement defies any clear view of their ins and outs. The process follows a winding trajectory, entailing advances and retreats, gains and setbacks, barely approaching the closure that would set limits to a clearly-defined object of thought. On the other hand, the text offers us the chance to follow the incessant questioning of theoretical construction.

In recent years, one has seen an increasing number of references to Freud’s famous letter of 6th December 1896, known as ‘letter 52’ (Masson 1985: 207-25).37 There, Freud affirms the originality of his conception of memory, as present ‘not once, but several times over’, in other words through the superimposition of several registrations, of various sorts of signs. He then goes on to formulate his conception of repression in terms of translation: ‘A failure of translation—that is what is known clinically as ‘repression’ (Masson 1985: 208).38 This point in Freud’s development, however important it may be, can only be truly understood as part of a process beginning long before, and which continues long after it. Certainly, nothing obliges us to embrace all the other aspects elaborated by Freud, and we are quite right to pick out what we consider to be true in what he proposes and refuse to swallow the rest. But at the same time it is not without interest—all the more so since this has not yet been done—to reestablish the overall pattern in order to gain a better idea of the construction-process of what is advanced theoretically by Freud, and which aroused in its author a conviction of truthfulness carried to the limit of reflexive analysis.

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Medium 9781855753297

CHAPTER SIXTEEN: Recent suggestions concerning the treatment of cases resistant to the therapeutic effect of analysis

Green, Andre Karnac Books ePub

An overall view of the technical positions defended by psychoanalysts concerning the dangers to which analytic treatment is exposed reveals great disparity. The first observation, one I have already made, is that the authors point to the fact that the current population of analysands, or, more broadly, those who turn for help to psychoanalysts, does not constitute a homogenous mass but, on the contrary, forms a diverse ensemble depending on the types of structure to which they are attached. In other words, the time is over when neurosis was the exclusive model of analytic activity and when it was important to distinguish a plurality of typologies, which, taken together, formed a composite image of the analytic population. To this heterogeneity of structures there often corresponded a pluralism of techniques. This diversity was not only to be explained by the global situation of polymorphism, but also by the options chosen by psychoanalysts, not to mention the local traditions which proposed different ways of distinguishing the diverse categories of patients, of comparing them, of treating them, and so on.

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