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Chapter Five: In Shakespeare do We Trust?

Karnac Books ePub

Sayandeb Chowdhury and Zehra Mehdi

Trust is evanescent. Trust is tenuous. Trust faces its equivocal trajectory in its subtle and somewhat sublime presence in psychoanalysis. Its presence is often evinced through its conspicuous absence in the definition of trust in theory. Except for Erik Erikson (1950), who proposed the notion of “basic trust,” no psychoanalyst offers much of an explanation of trust. It makes one wonder: do psychoanalysts not trust? Of course they do, but psychoanalytically!

Trust in psychoanalytic theory

Psychoanalysis understands the tenuous nature of trust and alludes to it, through implication, in the theory of psychoanalysis. In the earliest writing of Sigmund Freud (1895d), inability to “put up with things” (p. 108) is explored as the possible explanation of paranoia, making it a defense against painful experiences (pp. 109–110). He goes on to develop his theory on paranoia based on projection where “repressed homosexuality” is proffered as the origin of paranoia (1911b, 1915c, 1922b), keeping it within his theory of libido. Though Freud had stated (in a draft of a letter to his friend Wilhelm Fliess) how the primary symptom in paranoia is “distrust that permits the avoidance of self-reproach” (cited in Masson, 1985, p. 160), he went on to develop the crucial role of narcissism in paranoia with no future reference to “trust.” One plausible Freudian understanding of “trust” could be its relation with secondary narcissism1 (1911c), premised at the level of the body-ego libido. The repudiation of libidinal energy from the “object libido” back into the ego libido operates at the level of the body; hence it is the body ego2 (Freud, 1923b) that creates an experience of mistrust, which finds its projection in distrust.3

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6. The concept of the death drive: a clinical perspective

Karnac Books ePub

Otto Kernberg

I believe that it is quite evident that the two major controversies that have been raised by Freud's monumental discoveries are his theory of libido or the sexual drive and his theory of the death drive, representing, respectively, the struggle between life as centred in erotic impulses and aggression. Freud considered the two drives as the fundamental motivational principles determining unconscious conflict and symptom formation (Freud, 1920g). In a broader sense, they were what drives human beings towards the search for gratification and happiness, on the one hand, and to severely destructive and self-destructive aggression, on the other. Freud's stress on the infantile origins of sexual orientation, infantile sexuality, and particularly its sadomasochistic components, have raised shock, opposition, and efforts at denial in the general culture (Freud, 1905d). The death drive runs deeply against more optimistic views of human nature, based on the assumption that if severe frustrations or trauma were absent in early development, then aggression would not be a major human problem.

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CHAPTER ONE. Four kinds of analytic listening

Akhtar, Salman Karnac Books ePub

“[The analyst] must turn his own unconscious like a receptive organ towards the transmitting unconscious of the patient”

—Sigmund Freud (1912e, p. 115)

In his papers on psychoanalytic technique, Freud (1911e, 1912b, 1912e, 1913c, 1914g, 1915a) dealt with almost all important aspects of our clinical enterprise, including the need for a certain frequency and regularity of sessions, payment, use of the couch, free association, the limits of memory and recall, resistance, transference, anonymity and neutrality, working with dreams, and interpretive interventions of the analyst. He also made a number of remarks about the analyst’s manner of listening and what exactly it is that he ought to be attuned towards in his attention. Note the following recommendations made by Freud in this context.

•   “The technique … is a very simple one … It consists simply in not directing one’s notice to anything in particular and in maintaining the same ‘evenly suspended attention’ in the face of all that one hears” (1912e, pp. 111-112).

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CHAPTER 4 Animals in Children's Stories

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Animals in Children's Stories



Children still remember what we have long forgotten. An illustrated children's book, of talking animals, must tell the truth, ring with emotion, and graphically depict concerns. As music and art bypass the conscious mind, animals in stories carry powerful emotions, resonate and evoke various elements of experience.

Animals speaking intelligibly seem as natural to a child as plants talking, trees exchanging confidences, and objects becoming animated and alive. In the simple language of now, ducks and toys speak at least as distinctively as a parent. Children animate and vivifY what we later analyze and dissect. In this way, children may not be lonely even when alone, as they surround themselves with countless companions, many of whom are in direct communication with them.

The sensibility and intelligence in the real communication of animals are not lost in children. The wisdom of many animal stories portrays the richness of inner life, as well as the vividness of external life, such as birth and death, heroes and villains, mastery and defeat.

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Chapter One: Fear, Phobia, and Cowardice

Karnac Books ePub

Salman Akhtar

Fear is ubiquitous. All of us experience it at one time or another. The sound of footsteps approaching us from behind in a dark alley, an unexpected visit to the city morgue, eye contact with a large alligator in the zoo, and a precipitous “fall” of a rollercoaster can all give us goose bumps of terror. We shriek, scream, or simply become paralysed with fear. We readily recognise its dark arrival at the threshold of our hearts and feel its movement in our blood.

But do we understand the actual nature of fear? Do we know the purpose it serves? Do we agree upon the circumstances under which it is “normal” to be afraid? And, when does fear become abnormal or morbid? Is fear to be avoided at all costs or can this bitter gourd of emotion be transformed into a sweet mango of cultural delight? Questions like these suggest that fear is simple and self-evident only on the surface. Examined carefully, it turns out to be a complex and nuanced phenomenon.


Webster's Dictionary defines fear as “an unpleasant, often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger” (Mish, 1998, 3 p. 425). While the source of the threat is not identified, the tone makes it clear that the danger referred to resides in external reality. Fear, in other words, is a dysphoric reaction to an actual object (e.g., a wild animal, a knife-wielding drunkard), event (e.g., an earthquake, a stampede), or situation (e.g., watching a horror movie, losing control of a car on an icy road) that is felt to be threatening. The extent of dysphoria in the face of approaching danger varies and four levels of fear's severity are identified in the English language: (a) apprehension, which refers to a mild anticipation of a bad occurrence; (b) dread, which blends the conviction that one is facing danger with a powerful reluctance to encounter the scary object or situation; (c) panic, which denotes an overwhelming sense of being scared, coupled with alarmed hyperactivity (e.g., pacing, running away) and physiological arousal (e.g., increased heartbeat, laboured breathing); and (d) terror, which signifies an extreme degree of consternation, a feeling of doom, “catastrophic aloneness” (Grand, 2002), and psychomotor paralysis.

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