228 Chapters
Medium 9781912567126

7. The Interaction of Visual and Verbal Language in Dreams

Meltzer, Donald Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

It is difficult, in a book of this sort, to make headway with the problems to which we must now address ourselves, without attempting far more than we can hope to accomplish. We have already hurled ourselves at the mysterious problem of symbol formation in the visual area with, I think, some yield. We must now do the same in the verbal area. This takes us immediately into a confrontation with modern linguistics, semantics and psycholinguistics, for it is necessary once again, as in the chapter on mutism in Explorations in Autism, to dissociate psychoanalytic thought about language from two main currents. The first of these is the current which allies itself to information theory and engineering, decoding and mathematics. The other is a more anthropological, mystical one concerned with ethical problems surrounding man's view of his own prehistory.

It may seem unnecessary to enter into this debate, but it may eventually appear that the specific dissociation from them also highlights the problem of identification in language and the deeply emotional roots of grammar. In the chapter on mutism I suggested a two-tiered structure of language, one operating from the depths of the unconscious for the purpose of transmitting states of mind through the operation of projective identification, while the other, more conscious, superimposes words upon this deep music for the purpose of communicating information about the outside world. Ecological studies suggest that both of these operate in animals, mainly the former in mammals and the latter in insects. Man has fused the two and even, in his religious history, attempted to find words for states of mind. This theological prelude to literature may have blossomed but it is clear that only a very few gifted individuals have ever mastered its subtle techniques.

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Medium 9781855757844

CHAPTER TWO: Dream life: the generative theatre of meaning

Meltzer, Donald Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

Introduction by Miriam Botbol

Dream Life is one of the books by Meltzer that has most enriched clinical practice, owing to his formulation that dreams are generators of meaning in the analytical relationship. Written after The Psycho-Analytical Process and The Kleinian Development, it is sown with ideas that he will extend and pursue deeper in future papers and books.

In Part A he revises the theoretical basis of Freudian concepts, distinguishing “a bafing division between his tendency to form and prove rigid theories, and his extraordinary capacity for observation and imaginative speculation” (p.11). The chapter that deals with the expansion of Freud's metapsychology by Klein and Bion is a splendid summary of ideas in The Kleinian Development. Two important differences with Freud are spelled out: the dream is a real vital experience, and affects are previous to their representations. At the beginning of Part B Meltzer presents his new theory of dream life: dreaming is thinking; meaning is not captured from external reality, but generated by internal reality. He says: “In writing this I become increasingly aware of the magnitude of the task undertaken in this book and, with that, the impossibility of doing more than laying a groundwork of a new theory of dreams. Clearly I am attempting to formulate an aesthetic theory of dreams” (p.29). Part C examines the practice of dream investigation, the borderland between thought and action, and the difference between dream exploration and dream analysis. Meltzer writes: “I feel certain that the exploration is the more important, the more artistic aspect of the work. The patient's growing identification with the analyst's exploratory method is a far more important basis for his gradual development of self-analytic capacity than any striving towards formulation that he may evince” (p.147).

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Medium 9781855757844

CHAPTER EIGHT: Dimensionality, adhesive identification, splitting

Meltzer, Donald Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

Introduction by Renata Li Causi

Explorations in Autism contains the case histories of four autistic children, treated by psychotherapists trained in Melanie Klein's psychoanalytic model of child therapy and closely supervised by Meltzer. By the end of this research the book has formulated a new way of thinking about this syndrome, with significant further implications.

Meltzer noticed that autistic children experience an object with only one sense at a time (an object is seen, or heard, or touched, etc.). This provides an early defence against painful or intense emotions, earlier than splitting, which he calls “dismantling”. Tey let their mental organization fall passively to pieces, resulting in a state of mindlessness which has devastating consequences for their growth. Autistic children fail to form three-dimensional concepts of objects which contain spaces, and their concept of time is also severely impaired; they cannot identify either projec-tively or introjectively. Their perception is of an object without an inside (bidimensional objects). The alternative identification which they create is of skin-to-skin contact, which was called by Mrs Bick “adhesive identification”. Bick demonstrated the need for the experience of a containing object before primal splitting-and-idealization (Klein) could take place. Meltzer says, on the strength of the clinical material presented here, that autistic children have either lost or never developed an adequate psychic skin. His description of these children's defective psychic skin is not quite the same as the phenomenon described by Bick, as it seems to be the result of defcient concept formation rather than of inadequate containment under stress and anxiety.

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Medium 9781855752405

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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Medium 9781912567546

2. Second Week: Sessions 7–12: The Developmental Role of the Thirst for Knowledge

Meltzer, Donald Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

CHAPTER TWO

Second week: sessions 7–12

The developmental role of the thirst for knowledge

This second week is a marvellous week of analysis. I said the first week was like the opening of a Chekhov play with all the characters and the stage setting, Mrs Klein introducing her concepts and her language, and Richard being charming and getting frightened. Mrs Klein was in a hurry and unused to this setting, not knowing how to operate it. But the second week is entirely different, she hardly puts a foot wrong and things move on in the most astonishing way. If the first week sets the stage, the second week really introduces the drama and produces the first real formulation. I will try to describe it in phenomenological terms.

Richard's modes of representation become evident; the geography for instance. It becomes quite clear that the inside of the playroom is generally a very ‘inside the mother's body’ situation and that he has a tendency to escape to the outside to look at the hills. The exception to this is when he looks out of the window, which often seems to have the meaning of being outside looking in, and then he sees the children and the horse and so on. It is a common phenomenon with younger children. If you wear glasses, the child might come and look into you in the same way. Thus the geography of Richard's phantasy begins to come clear, inside and outside of objects. In the last session another type of geography closely related to conscious and unconscious is suggested. It is represented in the drawing of the ocean with the ship on top and the starfish and submarine and so on underneath. Mrs Klein suggests to him that this represents his desire to split these two levels. The division in the geography, of inside and outside in relation to the object, is thus paralleled by the geography of internal and external world in relation to himself. Likewise his splitting of the self begins to be evident. At least three divisions in his personality are fairly distinct; there is a really nasty, rather fascist and primarily oral sadistic part that bites his cap when he thinks about the ship's captain that he admires, or wants to burrow its way into Mrs Klein's mind, identified with the rats which used to be at his old school or in the laundry in X. It also has certain anal sadistic qualities that are connected with bombing and his preoccupation with ‘big job’, his laughing at the backside of the clock and laughing at the map when he looks at it upside down, or not liking the picture because it is brown. Secondly, there is a part of Richard which is affectionate and tender, that nuzzles the clock with his lips, that appreciates the beauty of the hills, likes the picture of the landscape, admires the tower and the sun shining on it. It obviously has a capacity for deep feeling but also utilizes these feelings in a very manic way, which Mrs Klein now notices. His relationship to beauty is attenuated by his manic use of it for the purpose of denying both the destructive feeling and the depressive anxiety about the damage that he may do. Finally Mrs Klein defines the sly, deceptive, seductive part of himself, the part that can easily change back and forth, that shows her how a Nazi flag can be changed into a Union Jack by just adding a couple of lines. Also his tendency to seek alliances emerges: with his brother, with his dog Bobby, with John Wilson. The wish for a sister and for other siblings as allies, both against the parents when they are bad and also against the destructive aspects of himself becomes a bit clearer.

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