40 Chapters
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1: Psychoanalysis and Ordinary Modes of Thought

Green, Andre Karnac Books ePub

1

Psychoanalysis and Ordinary Modes of Thought

In an unfinished work written in London during the autumn of 1938, Freud wrote: ‘Psychoanalysis has little prospect of becoming liked or popular. It is not merely that much of what it has to say offends people's feelings. Almost as much difficulty is created by the fact that our science involves a number of hypotheses – it is hard to say whether they should be regarded as postulates or as products of our researches – which are bound to seem very strange to ordinary modes of thought and which fundamentally contradict current views. But there is no help for it’ (Freud 1940b, p. 282). Freud is alluding here to the unconscious. He explains that the resistances to the unconscious are not only due to a moral censorship but to an intellectual one as well, as if its existence threatened reason and logic. In this opening chapter I will try to show that the progression of Freud's work compelled him to recognize the existence of modes of thought even more extraordinary then he could have expected when he proposed his first hypothesis on the unconscious.

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7: The Dead Mother

Green, Andre Karnac Books ePub

7

The Dead Mother

If one had to choose a single characteristic to differentiate between present-day analyses and analyses as one imagines them to have been in the past, it would surely be found among the problems of mourning. This is what the title of this essay, the dead mother, is intended to suggest. However, to avoid all misunderstanding, I wish to make it clear that I shall not be discussing here the psychical consequences of the real death of the mother, but rather that of an imago which has been constituted in the child's mind, following maternal depression, brutally transforming a living object, which was a source of vitality for the child, into a distant figure, toneless, practically inanimate, deeply impregnating the cathexes of certain patients whom we have in analysis, and weighing on the destiny of their object-libidinal and narcissistic future. Thus, the dead mother, contrary to what one might think, is a mother who remains alive but who is, so to speak, psychically dead in the eyes of the young child in her care.

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CHAPTER THREE: The setting and its interpretation

Green, Andre Karnac Books ePub

The relative rarity of contributions pertaining to the evaluation of psychoanalytic work cannot be explained solely by the wish to avoid a thorny issue; there is also a real difficulty in speaking about it. A few years ago, analysts who were concerned about the fact that they did not possess sufficiently reliable criteria for such evaluations made up their minds to examine this problem “scientifically”. It cannot be said that the results, which were supposed to be based on objective criteria, met the expectations that they had raised. It rapidly became clear that the methodology (analysis observed from behind a screen) was highly questionable, and it was soon concluded that the attempt to elucidate our understanding by means of an “objective” approach had failed.

The primary difficulty stems from the fact that we lack a model for reflecting on these evaluations. The temptation is to apply criteria that govern the medical model to an activity that is recognized as therapeutic. We would like to reason in terms of cure, improvement, stagnation, aggravation, and, ultimately, failure. But it seems that this model is false on two counts. First of all, applying modes of evaluation derived from medicine to psychoanalysis is a questionable procedure, as the medical model proves itself to be quite inappropriate. Second, even the advances of medical therapeutics no longer conform to these old and unsuitable criteria. However, a person who wants to undergo an analysis will say that they want to get better. Whatever the causes of their anxiety or ill-being are, the wish to change in order to experience relief from this suffering is expressed, even if these aspirations turn out to be more complex than it seems.

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CHAPTER SEVENTEEN: Methodological principles of psychoanalysis and the psychotherapies

Green, Andre Karnac Books ePub

Everything I have just described highlights the fragile conditions in which the analytic setting is implemented. It is often the case that the parameters that ensure the optimal conditions for conducting an effective analytic treatment cannot be realized. This is why we attempt to transform the extremely rigorous situation of analytic communication into a less demanding form, when it becomes clear that is necessary to be satisfied with less in order to be able to move forwards. We then make the experiment of modifying the numerous requirements of the setting, such as switching to the face-to-face arrangement, a situation that the patient seems to tolerate better, and which allows the process to get going again. Many psychoanalysts have shown themselves to be in favour of this technique, after realizing that more satisfactory analytic work could be achieved face to face.

It is far from my intention here to contest the advantages of the face-to-face technique over the difficulties of applying the classical psychoanalytic method. I have witnessed many stagnant situations where the only means of getting a process going again was to abandon the classical psychoanalytic method. But noting encouraging results does not exempt us from enquiring into the differences.

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11: Potential Space in Psychoanalysis

Green, Andre Karnac Books ePub

11

Potential Space in Psychoanalysis

The Object in the Setting

THE OBJECT IN ANALYSIS, THE ANALYSIS OF THE OBJECT, THE OBJECT OF ANALYSIS

On several occasions, Freud was led to assert that psychoanalytic concepts have chiefly an heuristic value and that only secondarily can they be defined more rigorously or replaced by others. No concept since the founding of psychoanalysis has been more broadly utilized than that of the object. According to Littré, the French Academy Dictionary gives the same illustration in defining the word ‘subject’ as it does in defining the word ‘object’: natural bodies are the subject of physics; natural bodies are the object of physics. Rather than deplore the confusion that arises here, or protest against philosophies which would divide subject and object absolutely, I wish instead to emphasize that their relationship is one of symmetry or of complementarity: no object without a subject, no subject without an object. From Freud's time to ours psychoanalytic theory has not been able to avoid facing up to the truth of this.

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