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12. Living in intrusive identification

Meltzer, Donald Karnac Books ePub

Carlos Tabbia Leoni

It is difficult for me to unite the term “living” with that of “intrusive identification” as I consider that the relation between both is practically exclusive. The “living” of projective identification is a mere reflection or a parody of the “living” in relation with the objects. “Living” being able to tolerate the conjunction of the “links of relationship” with the “anti-links”— anti-emotion, anti-knowledge, and anti-life (cf. Meltzer et aL, 1986)—favours not only the development of the mind, but also the capacity to experience love, joy, hope, pain, aesthetic pleasure, conflicts, and so on, all of which is impossible while one is “living in intrusive identification”. One only lives outside the object. Inside the object one only survives, only lives badly.

“Living inside an object” is an omnipotent fantasy correlative to “intrusive identification” in an internal object,1 transformed into a “claustrum”; this fantasy differs from the communicative function of projective identification. Some of the queries that emerge from this nuclear theme are the following. Is claustrophilia2 an omnipresent fantasy? Does the object of the claustrophilia always become a claustrum? Into which internal objects is the intrusion carried out? What is the motive that drives one to lose one’s life in order to attain a pseudo-existence? What are the consequences of intrusion for that part of the self that penetrates intrusively into the object? My contribution will be centred on this latter query. I would like to present, using different material, what happens to the intrusive part that seeks, to a varying degree, to live inside the other. In this chapter, I show the relationship of the self with its objects, or the paralysation of the self as a result of masturbatory-intrusive attacks on the internal objects; subsequently, I discuss the mental state of the inhabitants of the claustrum; and, finally, I illustrate all of this with the clinical material of a borderline patient. One could reformulate the claustrophilic motivation giving as an example a “joke” attributed to Cantinflas (a Mexican comedian): “What do we come into the world for?—to suffer? If that’s the case, we’re going back!” The subjacent fantasy of return-intrusion-confusion3 with the object seeks to eliminate pain, implicit in the differentiation subject-object. But, the price paid for avoiding mental pain is high. Once the patient has worked his or her way inside the internal object, he or she remains trapped there. Meltzer pointed out in a seminar4 that once Jane, the patient he was discussing, had penetrated the object, she remained separate from other people by a glass division, referring to the glass divisions of the compartments where she worked, inside which she adopted the necessary social behaviour but was incapable of maintaining intimate social relations. Inside the object one is protected from the world, but one also loses it—like the Wolf Man, who felt fortunate to have come into the world protected by a foetal lining, a veil that hid him from the world and hid the world from him (Freud, 1918b [1914]). The flight from the world in intrusive identification is so great that there is neither any contact with reality nor any idea of psychic reality (internal-external); there is a lack of the idea of nature, and reality is anthropomorphized; one does not live sufficiently in the external world, therefore access to meanings and value is banned; time, if it exists, is circular. Meltzer (1992a) enumerates other consequences of intrusion: “… the intruding part of the personality suffers from anxieties that are contingent on the fact of being uninvited. He is a trespasser, an impostor, a poseur, a. fraud, potentially a traitor. But he is also an exile from the world of intimacy, from the beauty of the world, which at best he can see, hear, smell, taste only second-hand through the medium of the object” (p. 72, emphasis added). The intruder feels as much a prisoner as Segismundo in La vida es sueno, by Pedro Calderon de la Barca [1600-1681], in his tower:

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2. Experiences of learning with Donald Meltzer

Meltzer, Donald Karnac Books ePub

Shirley Hoxter

In this chapter, I hope to convey to you the very substantial contributions that Donald Meltzer made to the development of the Tavistock Clinic’s training course concerning the psychoanalytic therapy of children and young people. I shall concentrate mainly upon Meltzer’s direct teaching activities, as supervisor and seminar leader in the period between the late 1950s and the mid-1970s. My accounts of these learning events are based largely on my own memories of encountering the mind of such a highly intelligent, original thinker and my personal emotional struggle of slowly learning how to learn from him.

I hope that this may throw some light upon what brought Meltzer and the Tavistock child psychotherapists together and what has continued to hold us together over such a long period. Surviving painful times, this relationship has been maintained even when we have been “absent objects” to one another for long periods.

This conference may be regarded as an affirmation of our relationship and our wishes to maintain it as a living experience. Using the language of Bion’s concepts, I consider that the “container-contained” aspects of our relationship could often be categorized as “symbiotic”, following Bion’s definition as quoted by Meltzer (1978a, Part III): “Symbiotic—the thought and the thinker correspond and modify each other through the correspondence. The thought proliferates and the thinker develops” (p. 111). This seems an apt description of the reciprocal nature of the relationship between Meltzer and ourselves when functioning at its best. By “ourselves” I mean not only the psychoanalytic therapists of children here at the Tavistock, and elsewhere in Britain, but also the many from other lands who have formed a learning relationship with him.

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5 - Dimensionality, Identity, and Security: Finding a Home through Psychoanalysis

Karnac Books ePub

Louise Allnutt

“Adoption is outside. You act out what it feels like to be the one who doesn't belong. And you act it out by trying to do to others what has been done to you. It is impossible to believe that anyone loves you for yourself.”

Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? (2011)

Being at home

Dimensionality, identity, and security are concepts that I would like to draw together and house descriptively as the experience of “being at home”. In my view, one needs to have developed a clear sense of the dimensions of space and your own place in it alongside a strong and secure-enough relationship to oneself and others to have the opportunity to feel at home, either in terms of “joining the human family”, as Maria Rhode has described it (2008), or in terms of being capable of making transitions and crossing thresholds into different spaces without a sense of losing one's own coherence. My experience of working with one particular patient has highlighted these issues at both a developmental and emotional level, but the absence or presence of “at-home-ness” is something that I find lies at the heart of many clinical relationships, sometimes in relation to oneself, sometimes in relating to others, at times due to concrete displacement and at other times through difficulties related to misrecognition and misperception. My clinical experience with a 2-year-old boy, who came for intensive psychotherapy for three years, brought the experience of being “outside” and the developmental problems of “homelessness” sharply into focus. It is some of this clinical material alongside the theoretical ideas that one can draw from Donald Meltzer, among others, that I would like to discuss here as an example of some of the processes one might traverse in finding a home through psychoanalysis.

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2 - The Relevance of Donald Meltzer's Concept of Nipple-Penis Confusion to Selective Mutism and the Capacity to Produce Language

Karnac Books ePub

Maria Rhode

My aim in this chapter is to explore the bearing of Donald Meltzer's concept of nipple-penis confusion, firstly on selective mutism, and secondly on the articulation of words. I suggest that this concept has great explanatory power, as it seems to be capable of subsuming phenomena that Meltzer (1986a) described in connection with the Theatre of the Mouth as well as the traumatic experiences that can be implicated in selective mutism. It also provides a framework for linking these two areas to the child's character.

I begin by outlining the concept of nipple-penis confusion and then refer to Meltzer's proposed conditions for language development, supplementing this by discussing the child's ability to take psychological ownership of the organs of the mouth. This is necessary for the production of speech and is a process that Frances Tustin's work on autistic children's experience of the mouth allows us to understand to some extent. I shall distinguish different ways in which the paternal part-object can be implicated in traumatic experiences, as these often seem to be the trigger for selective mutism, and contrast various identifications that seem to influence how children may respond to such experiences. I shall also suggest that it may be useful to extend some of Meltzer's formulations on the motives in play in nipple-penis confusion by considering its manifestations on these more primitive levels of trauma and adhesive identification.

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1. A review of my writings

Meltzer, Donald Karnac Books ePub

Donald Meltzer

It’s been absolutely lovely seeing so many people I know. It links immediately with the consulting-room, where you get one person after another that you know. And so different from wandering around airports with thousands of people you don’t know, and being reminded of how many people there are in the world. No, it’s lovely to know so many people; and, as I said yesterday, if women still wore lipstick that came off, my face would have looked like a barn door!

I am going to indulge myself in an attempt to review my experience of the past forty years. It won’t be a gallop, it won’t even be a canter—it will be an amble through these forty years, for myself to notice what has changed, because the changes are usually so slow and so different from patient to patient that one never bothered to pull them together, but I’ll try to do that for you. I don’t know how accurate it will be—the changes probably won’t fit any one patient, but a sort of aggregate of experience.

The first thing that comes to my mind is, of course, that when in 1965 I wrote The Psycho-Analytical Process (1967) it was written primarily with my experience with children in mind, and the idea of the gathering of the transference seemed absolutely correct; but as my practice moved more and more into work with adults, it’s fairly clear that nothing so effortless takes place with adult patients. It becomes clear that instead of this effortless attracting to the analytic setting all of the transference processes of the patient’s life, it seems necessary to dismantle something that I’ve come to think of as the “preformed transference” of the adult patient; the preformed transference, based on greater or lesser knowledge of or fantasies about the analytic method and the analytic experience, has to be taken down like an old shed at the bottom of the garden before anything new can be constructed. It can occur very quickly, in a few weeks, or it can take months or years to dismantle this preformed transference, a component of which is sometimes the erotic transference whose dismantling both analyst and patient tend to resist. As with Keats’s “pleasant pain”, it requires a certain ruthlessness to get rid of, and to establish the analytic situation, as Mrs Klein called it, which is the situation into which the transferences of a person’s life are sucked, rather like a vacuum-cleaner; it can be called “the gathering of the transference”, although it does seem to involve a much more active process with adults than with children.

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