228 Chapters
Medium 9781912567454

23. The Psychic Reality of Unborn Children

Meltzer, Donald Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

A young woman, eight years in mental hospital for manic-depression psychosis, brought two dreams to a session. In the first, she had some difficulty walking because there was a little pocket on the sole of her right foot which contained little sticks.

In the second dream, she had her head thrown back (she stood up to illustrate) and ‘sick was gushing forth eternally’ (gesturing with both hands in a way that made it appear that the vomit gushed forth from her mouth and circled in the air to re-enter her body at her genital).

As she rambled on in further description and association to the dream, it became clear that the sticks in the pocket in her sole were arranged like the bones of a little foot, ‘like phalanges’, ‘falangists’ (laugh). They were like the almond sticks with which she aborted herself the first time (when she was living with a fellow student whom she later married) – ‘What a bloody mess!’(said with vulgarity and callousness). ‘Later I thought I could have named him Karl, for Karl Marx.’ (The six months foetus was male.) ‘I was weeping and weeping yesterday and kept saying to myself, “Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.” He'd have been sixteen now. It's no use! Next week is Rosh Hashonah and then Yom Kippur!’

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Medium 9781912567126

14. Recovery from Analysis and the Self-Analytic Method

Meltzer, Donald Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

The dictum that the patient's neurosis is converted into a transference neurosis of which the analysis endeavours to cure him, may be an oversimplification but it has more than a grain of truth in it. In so far as the analysis enables the patient to gather together into a single relationship the diverse threads of his infantile transference tendencies, it can be seen to make a concentration of infantile need, anxiety and affect which has every resemblance to an illness. Where this replaces processes of symptom formation that were hampering the patient's activities and relationships in the outside world, it may appear as a benefit to the disinterested observer. But where the emotional disorder in the personality has been bound in character or in patterns of relationship, the concentration and potentiation of the transference processes made possible by the psychoanalytical setting may show as an illness in a person previously considered well and well-adjusted by family and friends. This is perhaps most often seen in people who come to analysis not from motives of therapy, but for professional reasons of one sort or another.

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17. Work, Play and Sublimation

Meltzer, Donald Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

As it was Freud's method to advance and retreat in his special capacity for deductive and inductive operation and also to hold on to terms and give them new meanings, the teaching of psychoanalysis always poses a problem in semantics which only an historical approach can resolve. Surely much of the schismatic trend within psychoanalytic circles is based on poor scholarship, one might say, in regard to notation. Another aspect of the problem is that terms, hallowed by antiquity, in our restricted sense, take on a life of their own and refuse to lie down and be buried in history once their usefulness has passed.

This chapter is largely elegiac in regard to the honoured term ‘sublimation’. Although it was used poetically in Draft L (1897) (‘phantasies serve the purpose of refining the memories, of sublimating them’), it takes place as a technical term beginning with ‘A case of hysteria’ (1905):

The perversions are neither bestial nor degenerate in the emotional sense of the word. They are a development of germs all of which are contained in the undifferentiated sexual disposition of the child, and which, by being suppressed or by being diverted to higher, asexual aims – by being sublimated – are destined to provide the energy for a great number of our cultural achievements. (S. E., VII, p. 50)

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18. Structural Revision of the Theory of Perversions and Addictions

Meltzer, Donald Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

It now remains to summarise and order the findings and theories related to perversions and addictions in the light of the structural revision of the general theory of adult, infantile and perverse sexuality. The chapter on ‘Terror’ contains implicitly a theory of the metapsychology of addictions which must now be made explicit, while some of its social implications will be traced later in the chapter on ‘Tyranny’. Equally, the chapter on the nature of the objects of perversion contains implicitly a theory, which needs relating to the theory of addictions, while some social implications will similarly be examined in the chapter on ‘Pornography’.

Let us start by a brief definition: Addiction: a type of narcissistic organisation of the infantile structures which weakens and may totally displace the adult part of the personality in control of behaviour. Its central structure consists of the ‘good’ child parts having turned their dependence away from the parental figures toward the ‘bad’ part of the self, initially as a retreat from depressive pain into the paranoid-schizoid position, but specifically as a defence against the experience of terror in relation to the mother's inside babies which have been killed due to possessive jealousy, oedipal rivalry and fear of weaning. The internal structure of the addiction consists of an enslavement to cynical modes of thought which desecrate the good objects and either expel them (manic) or bury them in the faeces (repression). Essentially dependence upon good objects is replaced by passivity toward bad parts of the self, in a mood of despair. In the process of this surrender, all mental pain related to the hope–hopelessness continuum is obviated. It is essential that the term passivity be reserved for this pathological mode of relation, and not be confused with the many variants of dependence, reliance, trust or helplessness which enter into good relationships, both adult and infantile.

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Medium 9781912567157

18. Denouement

Meltzer, Donald Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

This sort of book, which is the residue of clinical and teaching experiences rather than of any systematic research, seems a kind of compost heap. It is primarily intended to increase the fertility of the next developmental steps of others, to help them to bring to life their nascent creativity. But one also tends to hope that something alive of one’s own may be found, unexpectedly, to be growing on the heap, a clump of mushrooms or a surprise of daffodils. Does the book add up to anything other than what it claims: a series of studies illustrating the use that Bion’s ideas have found in my consulting room?

Bion himself was very opposed to a distinct ‘school’ growing up around his ideas, perhaps partly because the adjective ‘Bionic’ had such comic overtones of science fiction, gardening, electronics and quackery. But chiefly he felt, and I feel perhaps even more strongly, that the formation of ‘schools’ is a miscarriage of science. It is naive to suppose that deep and significant differences exist. It is political to exploit them within the organisations of psycho-analysis. It fails to understand the impossible task of rendering in language the ineffable phenomena of the mind. And finally it shows little comprehension of the history of art and science. In so far as the metaphor of progress as forward movement is permissible, the development of art and science, or, in the case of psycho-analysis, art–science, moves forward in spiral fashion in some respects, or like a caterpillar in others. Those in the vanguard of development think they are miles ahead of the rear-guard when they reckon linearly, but they need only look sideways to see they are only inches in advance. Furthermore it is necessary for them to pause, and teach, and help the others to catch up before they can go on. If they fail to do this, their language, and soon their thought, becomes so idiosyncratic that they find they have departed from the social field and must find their way back. In a way this happened to Bion with Transformations and had to be rectified by altering his metaphors in Attention and Interpretation.

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