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7. The Cycle of the Process in the Individual Sessions

Meltzer, Donald Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

It seems likely that the findings presented in this volume came as much from the experience of supervising students and colleagues as from the immediate encounters of the consulting room. A description of the technique of supervision which I employ may help to orientate the reader to the presentations of this chapter. My emphasis is always on the material of the session which I ask supervisees to read to me, commenting and elaborating on their notes freely, stopping the flow as soon as I feel I would have interpreted, usually prior to the supervisee's report of his interpretation. I am in the habit, with new cases, of working without background material, asking initially only the age, sex, number of siblings, marital status, number of children, whether parents are alive, occupation and chief complaint. Of course with cases presented over a period of months a considerable filling-in takes place, but always my emphasis is on the immediacy of the analytic situation, including aspects of the setting, while I leave problems of counter-transference aside as private to the supervisee.

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IV. Dreams as Unconscious Thinking

Meltzer, Donald Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

In framing a theory of dreams that rests firmly on Freud’s clinical use of dreams in psycho-analysis but. which grows organically out of the Structural-Phenomenological rather than Topographical-Neurophysiological model-of-the-mind, it is necessary to establish our vocabulary for describing dreams. This vocabulary must be truly meta-psychological (in its extended sense, including the geographical dimension of Klein and the epis-temological dimension of Bion, in addition to Freud’s original four-part definition). The most lucid sequence would seem to require the definition of the dream-process as one of thinking about emotional experiences, after which the way would be clear to examine what Freud calls the “considerations of representability” (by which we will mean symbol formation and the interplay of visual and linguistic symbolic forms) and the “dream work” (by which we will mean the phantasy operations and the thought processes by which the emotional conflicts and problems seek resolution).

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XVI. Sixteenth Week—Sessions 90-93 The Achievements of the Analysis, with Special Reference to Dependence on Internal Objects

Meltzer, Donald Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

The material that Richard brings in these four days is less dramatic than the previous week with exception of the lovely piece about the umbrella with which Mrs Klein works so beautifully. He tends mainly to peregrinate round different types of material that he brought earlier on in the analysis and a little bit of a dream or really the extension of the dream that he brought on the previous Saturday. In a sense there is nothing very new, no expectation on either part of discovering anything else during these last sessions.

It is all a rather sad reviewing of what they had accomplished and some attempt at making more explicit what thay have not accomplished. Richard can not keep his hands off Mrs Klein and these hands that are caressing and touching her also turn into the crab’s claws waiting to fasten on her. This is the clinging material which Mrs Klein had no conceptual framework for developing, but the fear of falling comes out in the parachute material and is discussed in the notes connected with it. It gives an insight into a fundamental insecurity of an extremely primitive sort, underlying the weakness of Richard’s ego and his distrust of his mother. This distrust is connected with the dark-blue mummy, this pretty conductress whom he says he ‘wouldn’t have’. But one can see that his mother, like the conductress who is accused of saying ‘stand up’, is the mother who expected too much of him in some way, expected him to be too independent, too manly, too potent. Mrs Klein also has tended, in emphasizing his genital conflicts, his castration anxiety, his wish to put his penis into the mummy and explore her inside, expected too much masculinity from him. Something very strongly feminine has not been allowed to develop and perhaps has not fared much better during this analysis, although he has had an opportunity to express it occasionally. At the end of the Saturday session there had been the dream of the empty bus, to which Richard brings more detail on Monday; again the eerie stillness, as in the Black Island dream, is central. The bus slowed down when Richard rang the bell and he jumped out while it was still moving, which is a very clear indication that the analysis is still a going concern for him. He feels it to be cut off at a time when he is probably making his greatest progress.

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CHAPTER TWELVE: Signs, symbols and allegory

Meltzer, Donald Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

Introduction by Grete Tangen Andersen, Morten
Andersen, Trond Holm, Jon Morgan Stokkeland,
Lilian Stokkeland, Eirik Tjessem

In this selection of extracts from some of his later papers and talks, Meltzer elaborates on the essential distinction between signs and symbols. This is perhaps a good place to start for new students of his work: it marks the difference between mind and mindlessness; mindlessness here signifying all the essential adaptational and conventional processes (the use of signs) which do not require the meaning-generating and symbol-forming mind.

This vital distinction has many diferent roots and ramifca-tions. Among the sources that he mentions are Wittgenstein´s linguistic philosophy, Cassirer and Langer on symbolic forms, and—of course—Bion's work. One of the many, and highly interconnected, implications is the difference between received (conventional) symbols and autonomous (original) symbols. What distinguishes the autonomous symbols is that they “are created in the mind of the speaker.” It makes one wonder; how is it that simple and even conventional words uttered, suddenly become true and meaningful? To convey emotional meaning by language is “not just a matter of symbol, not just a matter of words; it is also a matter of the music”. This leads on to the relation between “saying it” and “meaning it” (Wittgenstein, 1953)—being sincere—and to Bion´s distinction between “learning from experience” and “learning about”. Learning from experience rests upon symbol formation, which in its essence is an intuitive and mysterious process. It cannot be controlled or negotiated. This gives an answer to the question about what kind of science psychoanalysis is: an observational and descriptive science—it cannot explain and predict.

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X. 1918 The Wolf Man (The Primal Scene)

Meltzer, Donald Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

The case of the Wolf Man is to my mind the most important case history in the whole of psycho-analytic literature and in all of Freud’s work; for the Wolf Man was what might be called an encyclopaedia of psycho-pathology. Moreover, I believe this particular case was Freud’s premier clinical experience because all the work that follows seems to be deeply involved with it. It opened up the phenomenon of the primal scene to him. Now this was something which Freud had in fact conceptualized very early on, but which - probably owing to his diminished interest in the idea of specific aetiology - he later put aside. It was not until he was faced with the Wolf Man and his extraordinary dream and the evidence of the impact of the dream on the child’s development, that Freud took it up again. In a way-it is this theory that gives proper psycho-analytic form to all of Freud’s theories about sexuality; for although they had been, as it were, announced in the ‘Three Essays on Sexuality’, they were not built upon a foundation of psycho-analytic data, but merely from psycho-analytical modes of thought applied to ordinary medical and psychiatric data.

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