113 Chapters
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Chapter Three: School and After School

Symington, Neville ePub

I knew there was something wrong with me. I lived in an innocent world. I was walking along the beach one day and I said to myself: I'll put all my trust in God. Everything else had fallen away. It was a last resort. I was about fifteen at the time. From that time on I was haunted by this Hound of Heaven which was going to demand my life of me. I was terrified of it and it tortured me.

I was three when my mother, together with Jill, James, and Joan Smith, emigrated to Canada. My father was going to join up. In 1940, after the fall of France, it was thought that the Germans would invade Iberia and the British embassy in Lisbon advised English subjects to migrate to Canada or South Africa. I remember well my father coming and giving me a little string bag full of small model farm animals—his gift to me before a long parting. Parting has always been a trauma for me and even as I write this I am tearful. We flew to America from Lisbon in the Dixie Clipper1 and I remember walking on the wide wooden gangway which took us from the shore of the Tagus into the wide open mouth of the seaplane. I remember a day we spent in the Azores and picking up a piece of pumice stone on the beach and then landing at Bermuda. The landing at the Azores had been rough and bumpy but in Bermuda there was just a small spray of water on the windows and I remember my mother saying, “Oh, that was a gentle landing.” A fair-haired girl called Alison Moreira was on the plane also and I can remember standing at one of the plane windows with her looking upon clouds that were down below us. Soon after arriving in Canada we had news that my father was seriously ill and could not go to England to join up.

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20. Psychoanalysis – A Spirituality

Symington, Neville Karnac Books ePub

It is only in our immediate intercourse with human beings that we have insight into the character of man. We must actually confront man, we must meet him squarely face to face, in order to understand him.

(Cassirer, 1972)

The purpose of detachment is to uncloak spiritual action in all its nakedness. For the mystic, it was only when this action was revealed that it was possible to distinguish good from bad. Mystics were men who had devoted themselves to this inner scrutiny with the goal of triumphing over the bad and establishing the good. The good was then an internal possession whose light they followed. They were thus able to abandon primitive religion, although they retained elements of the religious tradition in which they were socialized. So, for instance, the Buddha maintained the doctrine of reincarnation and built his theory of karma into it.

The internal possession of the good is what guided these mystics, who were also founders of the great religious traditions. They all founded institutions, which embodied the good in a scriptural canon whose function was to encapsulate the teachings of the founder. This was then entrusted to a responsible body whose job was to guard the doctrine. The moment the good is made incarnate in these two components the institution is born. This marks the transition from spirituality to religion.

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Medium 9781855759848

CHAPTER TEN: The true god and the false god

Symington, Neville Karnac Books ePub

Apatient was late one day because snow on the road had delayed her, and she was angry. I mentioned this to Wilfred Bion in supervision, and he said to me: “You must say to her that God has sent down that snow to get between you and her.” There is a god that gets in the way of two people coming to know each other. There is a god who interferes with my thinking; there is a god who demands that I follow his instructions; there is a god who punishes me if I think for myself; there is a god who sanctions my sadism, a god who encourages my masochism, a god who fosters my greed, who inflates my envy, who fans my jealousy, a god who possesses me but despises me, a god who solves problems by obliterating them.

You may recognize in this portrait of god, traits with which you are familiar from the reading of the Bible, the Torah, or the Koran. Embodied in these ancient texts are aspects of this god that I have been trying to describe. There are also other aspects that I shall come to later. This cultural expression is manifest in the psychology of the individual. I can find in myself and my patients traces of this god. This god is a narcissistic object seen from one particular angle. The narcissistic object is many-faceted, and it is a part of the self that has been expelled and embodied either in a figure, or figures, outside. The outer figure is then enveloped by this part of the self, in the way that Wilfred Bion describes: “The object, angered at being engulfed, swells up, so to speak, and suffuses and controls the piece of personality that engulfs it (1956, p. 40).

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5. Socrates – Religious Teacher in Classical Greece

Symington, Neville Karnac Books ePub

The founder of every new religion possessed at first no greater authority than the founder of a new school of philosophy. Many of them were scorned, persecuted, and even put to death, and their last appeal was always, what it ought to be – an appeal to the spirit of truth with us, and not to twelve legions of angels, nor, as in later times, to the decrees of Councils, to Papal Bulls, or to the written letter of a sacred book.

(Max Müller, 1985)

Socrates was one of the great religious teachers of the Axial Era, although he is not usually recognized as such because he did not found a religious dynasty, or at least he is the only such teacher who remains well known to posterity.

The Socrates I refer to is the one we meet in the dialogues of Plato. Most scholars are agreed that in the Republic and the Laws the Socrates we meet is merely Plato's puppet, mustered to portray Plato's philosophical arguments and probably somewhat distant from the historical Socrates. The man we are studying here is the Socrates of the early dialogues, which are much more faithful to the historical Socrates as he was.

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9. The relation of this theory to other psychoanalytic theories

Symington, Neville Karnac Books ePub

I now intend to compare the theory I have been proposing with various other psychoanalytic theories of narcissism. in particular those that have arisen out of the British Object Relations School—the theories of Fairbairn, Melanie Klein, Winnicott, Frances Tustin, and Heinz Kohut—not so much because they specifically addressed narcissism, although they did do so, but because the approaches people take to narcissism are usually related to one of these theories.

Fairbairn’s theory of narcissism

Fairbairn seldom used the term “narcissism” because he focused his clinical attention upon what he referred to as schizoid states, by which he meant states in which the ego was withdrawn into itself and not in contact with the external object. The foundation stone of all his theorizing was that lib-ido was object-seeking. Freud said that libido is energy, a drive, seeking discharge through one of the erotogenic zones. Falrbaim, however, said that the erotogenic zone was just a gateway through which libido travels in order to reach the object. So libido acquired a different meaning in his hands, and I think libido was the wrong term for what he was describing.

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